The Environment Agency's decision to grant an environmental permit for Pembroke power station has been strongly criticised by the Welsh Government's environmental advisers, the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW).

In its response to the agency's decision, obtained by Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth under Freedom of Information laws, CCW warns again that the cooling system will harm the important marine environment of the Milford Haven waterway. These damaging impacts could last for the 40-year lifetime of the power station.

It states that, each year, hundreds of thousands of fish caught on the intake screens will die, while hundreds of millions of juvenile fish that pass through the screens are also likely to be killed. This decline in fish and eel numbers could be sufficient to reduce the numbers of otters.

CCW also point to other damaging impacts. The discharge of cooling water at 7C higher temperature will, it predicts, harm shell growth, fish reproduction and resistance to disease, while the use of biocide in the cooling water will pose an additional threat.

In a strongly worded statement, CCW complains that its views have been mis-represented by the Environment Agency and that the agency failed to follow an agreed process of working or to work closely with CCW.

Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth spokesperson, Gordon James, said: "The letter from the CCW contains remarkably strong criticism of the Environment Agency's decision to give Pembroke power station the go-ahead and clearly shows that this extremely important marine environment will be harmed by the power station.

"We believe this should have resulted in Wales' Environment Minister, John Griffiths, calling in the application and holding a public inquiry. By failing to do this he has ducked a difficult decision and Pembrokeshire's greatest asset, its natural environment, will be worse off as a consequence."