Regulator seeks feedback on Sizewell C environmental permits

06 July 2020

The Environment Agency is seeking feedback from the community and national stakeholders on applications for three environmental permits required for operation of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk, England. These permits are for: disposals and discharges of radioactive wastes; operation of standby power supply systems using diesel generators; and discharges of cooling water and liquid effluent into the North Sea.

The Sizewell C project design (Image: EDF Energy)

EDF SZC Co is looking to build a new nuclear power station next to Sizewell B in Suffolk. As well as regulating the proposed site, through these environmental permits, the Environment Agency also provides advice and information to the Planning Inspectorate on subjects that include the protection of water quality and ecology; and flood and coastal risk management. The consultation on the application will run from 6 July for 12 weeks.

The Environment Agency’s Nuclear New Build Project Manager, Simon Barlow, said the applications were the culmination of 10 years of pre-application discussions with EDF SZC Co.

"We appreciate that there are currently limitations on people’s movements and accessibility challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, so we will be taking measures to ensure everyone can have access to the relevant documents and direct contact with Environment Agency officers, to ask questions and discuss their concerns," he said.

During and after the 12 weeks, Environment Agency experts will be carrying out technical assessments of the applications and will consider comments. When it has reached a draft decision on the permits, a further 12-week period of consultation will be held to share its views and seek further feedback before making any final decisions.

The Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Regulation have already completed their assessment of the UK EPR reactor design that EDF SZC Co is proposing for its Sizewell C site. The assessment process ended in December 2012 and the Environment Agency and ONR concluded that the reactor design is ‘acceptable’. This means that people and the environment will be properly protected if this reactor design is constructed and operated in the UK.

The Environment Agency is a non-departmental public body, established in 1995 and sponsored by the UK government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with responsibilities relating to the protection and enhancement of the environment in England.

Sizewell C will be a near replica of Hinkley Point C (HPC), which EDF Energy is building in Somerset and, like HPC, it will be able to supply 7% of the UK's electricity once it enters commercial operation. At about GBP18 billion (USD22 billion), EDF Energy has said that Sizewell C will be cheaper to build than HPC, the estimated cost of which is between GBP21.5 billion and GBP22.5 billion.

The UK's Planning Inspectorate Plans announced last month that it had accepted for examination the Development Consent Order submitted by EDF Energy for construction of the plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News