A revised schedule of expected applications for permission to construct new nuclear power plants in the UK has been published by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC). The first is expected from EDF Energy in early August.
The IPC is an independent body which was established in October 2009 to make decisions on applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects. It was set up under the UK government's 2008 Planning Act, alongside other reforms, to make the application process for nationally significant infrastructure projects faster and less prone to delay by excessive public enquiry.
Besides considering separate applications for infrastructure projects, the IPC will also consider the recent National Policy Statement on the need for nuclear power in the UK. It will be ready to receive applications from the energy and transport sectors on 1 March.
The IPC's current schedule includes planning applications for a total of 18 projects, the majority of them energy-related. Applications are expected for four new nuclear power plants: at Hinkley Point in Somerset, Sizewell in Suffolk, Wylfa on Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. Two applications for power line projects are expected, one of which is for a new 26 km overhead power line related to the new Sizewell plant. In addition to two road improvements projects, the anticipated projects include seven wind farms, two waste combustion plants and a biomass power plant.
According to the IPC's expected timetable, the first application for a new nuclear power plant is expected to be submitted by EDF Energy for the two-unit Hinkley Point C plant on 2 August. This would mean that IPC approval for the plant could come around mid-2011. EDF plans to begin preparing the site before the end of 2010, pending separate local permission. Subject to a favourable outcome from the Health and Safety Executive's assessment of the Areva EPR design in June 2011, construction of the plant could start in early 2012. The plan is for the first reactor to operate before the end of 2017, with the second following about 18 months later.
EDF is then expected to submit a planning application on 1 June 2011 to construct another EPR at Sizewell. Later next year, on 1 November, Horizon Nuclear Power - the UK joint venture between E.On and RWE - is expected to submit planning applications for new reactors at both the Wylfa and Oldbury plants.
Once a planning application for a project has been submitted, the IPC will have up to 28 days to decide whether to accept the application for consideration or to reject it. The acceptance stage includes assessing whether the promoter’s public consultation has been adequate and environmental investigations sufficient.
The application will then undergo a pre-examination stage of up to three months during which the IPC will hold preliminary meetings and set a timetable for the examination. The IPC then has up to six months to carry out its examination. It will then have up to three months to make a decision on the submission if an approved National policy Statement is in place. If a policy statement is not in place, the IPC must make a recommendation to the secretary of state, who will then make any decision.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News