Nuclear Regulation News – An update from the Environment Agency
We’ve received an application to vary an existing environmental permit, under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016, from NNB Generation Company (HPC) Limited at the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, near Bridgwater.
Permit application number EPR/HP3228XT/V004
The company now wants to vary their existing permit to amend or remove conditions relating to the design and operation of the Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) system. This was initially proposed as part of the station’s marine intake system i.e. pipes used to abstract cooling water from the Severn Estuary.
The original permit was granted by the Environment Agency in 2013 and covered the discharge of trade effluent, consisting of cooling water, back into the Severn Estuary. The initial design required the company to abstract and discharge this cooling water using three measures, which would work together to reduce the environmental impact of this activity. The measures included in the original permit were a Low Velocity Side Entry intake (LVSE), a Fish Recovery & Return (FRR) system and an Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) system.
This email will tell you more about the changes that the company wants to make to their permit, how you can find out more and how you can send your comments to us.
What does the operator want to do?
The Company no longer believes it is necessary or practicable to install an Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) system on its marine intake pipes and so it is applying to us to vary its current permit to remove the conditions related to this measure.
What does this mean for the site?
The company has submitted a number of reports alongside its application. We need to consider all of these fully and independently before we can make any decision on whether the company’s proposals are acceptable or not. The reports submitted by the company include:
• A justification report, which explains the company’s reasoning behind the proposed design for the abstraction and associated fish protection measures
• A Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) report, which gives the company’s view on whether the proposed revised arrangements for seawater abstraction will adversely affect the integrity of European designated sites, Ramsar sites or protected species either alone or in combination with other relevant permissions, plans or projects
• A Water Framework Directive (WFD) Compliance Assessment, which gives the company’s view on whether the proposed revised arrangements will adversely affect compliance with the Water Framework Directive, including any impact on fish numbers and migration
• An Eels Regulations Assessment, which explains to what extent the company believes its proposals comply with the Eels Regulations
• An Impingement Assessment, looking at the numbers of fish that the company believe may be trapped or killed within the power station’s cooling water system and the impacts on the fish community of the Bristol Channel
• An Engineering Report, which summarises the company’s decision making processes for the selection, design and optimisation of components of its cooling water system
• A Safety Report, which summarises the company’s health and safety studies and risk analysis.
Why are we consulting?
We are running a public consultation because Hinkley Point C is a major infrastructure project, important at the local, national and international scales. We understand that changes at the site are likely to be of significant public interest. We make decisions based on evidence and involve stakeholders in order to improve the transparency of our decision-making.
We welcome feedback from everyone who has a view on the application, regardless of their age, sex, disability, marriage and civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity status, race, religion or belief or their sexual orientation.
What are we consulting on?
Because of the strategic nature of the site and the fact that cooling water will be abstracted from marine waters i.e. below the low tide mark, the company already has three separate permissions in place and it will need to vary all of these in order to make the proposed changes.
We are asking for your comments on the requested changes to the environmental permit only.
The company will also be applying to:
• the Planning Inspectorate (PINs), in order to vary its Development Consent Order (i.e. planning agreement, DCO 2013: S.I. 2013:248)
• the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), in order to vary its marine licence (number L201300178/3)
PINs, the MMO and the company will run and promote separate public consultations on the above aspects, which are likely to happen around the same time as our consultation on the environmental permit variation application.
You can find out more about the company’s pre-application consultation on the Development Consent Order (DCO) on EDF’s website
What can we take account of?
The examples in the table below illustrate the sorts of things we can and can’t take account of during the assessment of a permit application
Find out more about the application
The company has submitted a large number of supporting documents and reports. You can view all of these online at our consultation portal, Citizen Space
If you do not have access to the internet you can view hard copies of all the supporting information related to this permit variation application at any of the following locations:
• EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point Visitor Centre, Units 18-19 Angel Place Shopping Centre, 25 Angel Crescent, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 3TQ.
• Environment Agency Wessex Area, Rivers House, East Quay, Bridgwater, TA6 4YS.
• Environment Agency Head Office, Horizon House, Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AH.
• Customer Services Reception, West Somerset Council, West Somerset House, Killick Way, Williton, TA4 4QA.
• Central Library Hub, Cardiff Central Library, The Hayes, Cardiff, CF10 1FL.
You can look at public register information in our offices from 9.30am-4.30pm, Monday to Friday. Please phone our National Customer Contact Centre on 03708 506 506 to arrange an appointment if you wish to visit one of our offices. You may be able to get a copy of documents held on our public register, although we may charge to cover copying costs.
How to submit comments
If you have any comments please send these to us by 5pm on 4 June 2019. You can send your comments in various ways:
Media queries should be directed to the National Customer Contact Centre on 03708 506 506.
Normally they must add all responses they receive onto their public register. Please tell them if you want your response to be confidential.
What happens next?
Once our consultation period finishes we will consider all the information and comments we have received to inform our draft decision on whether or not to issue the permit variation. We will only issue a permit variation if the operator can demonstrate they will have appropriate management systems in place to conduct their operations without causing unacceptable harm to the environment or human health.
If we propose to grant the variation, we must decide what conditions to include in the permit and we will run a further public consultation on these proposals and on the reasons for our draft decision, before we make a final decision.
We will send out regular updates to keep you informed about the progress of this permit application. If you would like your name added to our mailing list for this purpose, or you would like to be removed from our mailing list please email us. Please do not send consultation comments to this address.