Consultation on plans to approve Sizewell C environmental permits

05 July 2022

The Environment Agency has launched a 12-week public consultation on its proposed decision to grant three permits relating to the planned Sizewell C nuclear power plant in eastern England in the UK. It says that each of the permits would be needed for the operation of the power station.

An image of how Sizewell C might look (Image: EDF)

EDF's new nuclear build company, NNB Generation Company (Sizewell C), applied for the three environmental permits in May 2020 and an initial Environment Agency consultation followed the same year.

Any company that wants to operate a nuclear power plant has to show that it can build, commission, operate and decommission it safely and securely, while protecting the environment and managing radioactive waste, the consultation says.

The permits would allow Sizewell C to:

  • dispose of and discharge radioactive waste;
  • operate standby power supply systems using diesel generators;
  • discharge cooling water and liquid effluent into the North Sea.

Simon Barlow, the Environment Agency's Sizewell C project manager, said: "Our proposed decision is that we should issue the permits for the three operational activities, subject to the consultation process. These draft permits represent over 10 years of pre-application discussions with EDF SZC Co.

"The company has applied for these permits many years ahead of the station operating. If we grant these permits early in the project, it will help us to positively influence the design, procurement, and commissioning of the power station, whilst also ensuring that the environment and wildlife is protected. We want our decisions to be better informed through consultation and want to hear people’s views on our proposed decisions."

He added: “If you have any relevant information that you feel we have missed, you can provide your comments, which we will carefully consider, before we make our final decision in early 2023.”

The Environment Agency says it has "assessed the risks to designated habitats and species and consider that the proposed activities will not have an adverse effect on European sites, or damage Sites of Special Scientific Interest".

It also stressed: "Our consultation does not relate to the UK EPR design. It is not about the need for nuclear power, UK energy policy, the siting of nuclear power stations, nor the safety and security of the design."

The Environment Agency adds that it worked with the Office for Nuclear Regulation to carry out a Generic Design Assessment on the design proposal for the nuclear power plant. It said this assessment ended in 2012, concluding that the reactor design was "acceptable".

The plan is for Sizewell C to feature two EPRs producing 3.2 GW of electricity, enough to power the equivalent of around six million homes. It would be a “replica” of the Hinkley Point C plant, under construction in Somerset. EDF submitted a development consent order (a planning application) for the plant in May 2020 and if all goes well, has said it expects to make a final investment decision later this year or in 2023.

You can view, and take part in the consultation, here.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News