Land released for re-use at Magnox sites

03 February 2012

A significant part of the land at both the Oldbury and Berkeley nuclear power plant sites in the UK can now be used for other purposes following the decision by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to release the land for new development.

Lord Marland of Odstock, parliamentary under-secretary of state for energy and climate change, signed the orders revoking the nuclear designation of 46 hectares of land at the sites, allowing that land to be either sold or leased out. Each plot of land had already been released from the conditions of its nuclear licence.

Berkeley - aerial - 460x345
An aerial view of the Berkeley site from 2010. The plant is being decommissioned, wheras one of Oldbury's two reactors remains in operation until the end of this month
(Image: Magnox Ltd)


Half of the original Oldbury site has now been released. In June 2011, following extensive grounds and building testing carried out by Magnox, 35 hectares of the site were delicensed by the UK Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the land declared to be in a condition fit for any kind of re-use because it contains no radiation hazard. This land includes a popular nature trail and a historic visitor centre.

Part of this delicensed land will be used by Horizon Nuclear Power - the RWE and EOn joint venture - which plans to build a new nuclear power plant at the site. Earlier this week, Horizon announced that it had completed the purchase of land at Oldbury. The 36 hectares remaining under license contain the site's operational plant, including the two 217 MWe Magnox reactors and essential plant infrastructure.

At Berkeley, about one-third of the original site is being marketed for use as a business park after revocation of the designating directions that gave the NDA responsibility for the site. The 11 hectare plot of land - out of a total 38 hectares - comprises a range of buildings including offices, warehouses, laboratories, engineering workshops, a cafe and conference centre. Many of the buildings - some dating from the 1960s - had no radiological use, while others - including radiochemistry laboratories and waste facilities - were decommissioned and demolished. In 2006, Berkeley became the first site to achieve delicensing since the NDA was formed.

The lifting of all nuclear regulations covering the Oldbury and Berkeley plots marks the largest release of land since the NDA was formed in 2004. Brian Bernett, NDA head of program, said: "This is a major achievement for the NDA in terms of returning these pieces of land to the market."

Harwell and Capenhurst

Last month, six hectares of land at the Harwell nuclear research site were released from the nuclear site licence by the ONR. The NDA is now to 'de-designate' the area, allowing the land to become part of the wider Harwell Oxford campus that houses a range of high-tech businesses and research organizations.

Site operator Research Sites Restoration Ltd (RSRL) has now cleaned up and delicensed 20% of the entire Harwell site following the delicensing of seven hectares in 2010 and 11 hectares in 2011. Alan Neal, managing director of RSRL, said, "Delicensing represents the final stage of the nuclear life cycle and demonstrates that RSRL has completed its mission on that area of land."

Last year saw the first time that UK land had been fully released for further use, when two plots of land at Capenhurst, totalling seven hectares, were transferred to Urenco's neighbouring site.

Research and written
by World Nuclear News