812: Nuclear questions
Today’s entry reports on nuclear power projects.
This is the second application to be made for a nuclear power station under the Planning Act 2008, the first one being for the Hinkley Point C power station, which was granted in March 2013.
The application was made on 1 June this year, and the preliminary meeting took place on 23 October. Last week the panel of five inspectors issued their first list of written questions, which can be found here.
The questions set a new record for their number. Counting parts of multi-part questions separately, and counting the frequent ‘If not, why not?’ as a separate question (37 of those), I get a whopping 1006 questions in the list. There are just 28 days to answer them, as usual. I am not whether sticking to 28 days to answer so many questions is going to be that helpful to the examination, or the mental health of the promoter’s team (although far from all the questions are asked of them). Maybe the questions need to be asked, but couldn’t a bit longer be given to answer them? Anyway, 1006 comfortably beats the record set by the Hinkley Point C connection with 850 or so.
Can I just make a plea that multi-part questions are given separate identification ((i), (ii), etc would do, as is employed on some occasions)? It’s quite difficult to refer to parts of questions when they are just in an unbroken stream of text. Incidentally, the Wylfa questions say:
‘Each question has a unique reference number which starts with 1 (indicating that it is from ExQ1) and then has an issue number and a question number. For example, the first question on air quality and emissions issues is identified as Q1.1.1. When you are answering a question, please start your answer by quoting the unique reference number.’
This is immediately departed from with the first question actually being Q1.0.1, and the remainder being issue, then sub-issue, then question number, so up to Q21.0.6. Indeed, the middle number is only used by the Q10 and Q11 sets, the work of one of the five inspectors, perhaps.
Meanwhile, Toshiba, current promoter of the next nuclear power station, Moorside in Cumbria, has announced that it is winding up its UK nuclear business after discussions to hand it over to the Korea Electric Power Corporation fell through. Whether the Government provided enough support is a matter of debate, and locals are holding out hope that someone else will pick up the baton, but the National Infrastructure Commission certainly didn’t help when its National Infrastructure Assessment said there should only be one more nuclear power station after Hinkley Point C before 2025, and Wylfa is ahead of any others.
In its interim response to the NIA, the Government ducked that conclusion (along with most others) but its answer implies that it disagrees – for example, it ‘is engaging with a range of other developers’ beyond Wylfa (see page 7). Not engaging enough for the likes of Moorside, it seems.
Hinkley Point C
While reviewing the status of other nuclear power Development Consent Orders, I spotted that the Hinkley Point C DCO has had three non-material change applications, and the third one was only partially granted, on the grounds that one of the changes proposed was material rather than non-material – see this decision letter.
This is for the element of a revised Interim Spent Fuel Store and Equipment Store. The Government considered that their visual impact was potentially greater and the change from wet storage to dry storage was significant. Although that was back in March, no further application has been forthcoming yet. Indeed, no material change application has yet to be made to any DCO.
Sizewell C and Oldbury B
For completeness, the only other nuclear power projects on the Planning Inspectorate website (note: they want you to use ‘the Inspectorate’ rather than ‘PINS’ these days), are Oldbury and Sizewell. Oldbury hasn’t had any activity on the website since December 2011. Sizewell is a bit more active, its most recent update being a letter from an objection group this September. Two rounds of consultation have been carried out (the second being two years ago) and it is gearing up for a third.