On 19 July 2011 the Government “designated” or approved six National Policy Statements for Energy Infrastructure including one on Nuclear Generation. This listed eight sites in England and Wales as suitable for the deployment of new nuclear reactors: Hinkley Point, Wylfa, Moorside, Sizewell, Bradwell, Oldbury, Hartlepool and Heysham. Since then, new nuclear reactors have been proposed at six of those sites. No proposals have been brought forward for Hartlepool and Heysham.
National Policy Statements (NPS) are intended to establish the case for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, as defined in the Planning Act 2008. The current nuclear NPS (EN-6), listed sites which were considered to be potentially suitable for the deployment of new nuclear power stations by the end of 2025.
The Government is now considering the planning framework for new nuclear power for deployment after 2025. The first step towards this was to consult on the process and criteria for designating potentially suitable sites for the deployment of new nuclear power stations between 2026 to 2035 and with over 1GW of single reactor electricity generating capacity. The NFLA response to this consultation is available here. The Government published its response to this consultation in July 2018. In the response, the Government concluded that “sites listed in EN-6 on which a new nuclear power station is anticipated to deploy after 2025 will continue to be considered appropriate sites and retain strong Government support during the designation of the new NPS”
The Government said it would publish a draft NPS for public consultation in 2019, which will build on the outcome of the consultation. At the end of November 2020 this had yet to appear. The December 2020 Energy White Paper said the Government would complete its review of the Energy National Policy Statements with the aim of designating updates by the end of 2021.
Taken together with the overarching NPS for Energy (EN1), the Government says the current nuclear NPS sets out the need for nuclear power, whilst also providing planning guidance for developers and for the Planning Inspectorate and Secretary of State in their consideration of applications. Yet when the Government first endorsed Hinkley Point C, (HPC) it was projecting an increase in electricity consumption of 15% by now, whereas in practice we are consuming 15% less than a decade ago. In other words it made a 30% error. This is despite a 13% increase in GDP over the last decade. HPC is only due to deliver 7% of consumption. So, in fact, there is no “need” for new nuclear power stations before or after 2025.
In 2020, the Good Law Project and Ecotricity founder Dale Vince along with Guardian columnist George Monbiot, launched a legal challenge to the NPS for Energy on the grounds that it didn’t reflect the UK’s climate target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, and allowed new fossil fuel projects to proceed despite climate fears. In response Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the policy will be reviewed. The group said they would continue to push ahead with the judicial review to force the Government to suspend the existing NPS for energy while a new policy is drafted. The Government said “A final decision will be made in the Energy White Paper, due to be published this Autumn .”
In July 2017, EDF Energy revealed that Hinkley Point C – the most advanced of the proposed new nuclear stations – is likely to be delayed by 15 months to 2027, so it is now almost certain that no new nuclear power stations will be operational on any of the sites designated in the current NPS by 2025.
The Government’s Energy White Paper says it aims to bring at least one large-scale nuclear project to the point of Final Investment Decision (FID) by the end of this Parliament (May 2024), subject to clear value for money and all relevant approvals.
|Proposed Nuclear Station||Technology Proposed||Developer||Construction start expected||Commercial operation forecast|
|Hinkley Point C||2 x 1600MW EPRs||EDF 66.5%
|First concrete 2019||End of 2025 with risk of 15 month delay.|
|Wylfa Newydd||2 x 1350MW ABWRs||Horizon Nuclear Power – wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd.||Work suspended January 2019. Sept 2020: Hitachi end operations on nuclear construction in UK; open discussions with Westinghouse.||Not Known|
|Moorside||3 x 1150MW AP1000s (but could be replaced by 2 x 1400MW APR1400)||NuGen (currently owned by Toshiba – but a deal to sell it to KEPCO has fallen through)||Plans scrapped. NuGen being wound up||Not Known|
|Sizewell C||2 x 1600MW EPRs||EDF 80%
|Final Investment Decision expected 2023||2033|
|Oldbury B||2 x 1350MW ABWRs||Horizon Nuclear Power – wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd.||Work suspended Jan 2019.||Not Known|
|Bradwell B||2 x 1000MW UK HPR1000||CGN 66.5%
|No defined timeline; began GDA process in Jan 2017|
Instead of admitting that its new nuclear programme has been a failure, and that by the time any of the proposed reactors come on line nuclear power will be obsolete, the proposed new NPS simply carries forward the designated sites from the current NPS, and suggests that new sites may be designated in the 2020s. Unlike the current Nuclear NPS, the new draft clarifies that the sites are designated for reactors larger than 1GW. However, in recognition of the recent the clamour from the nuclear industry for a programme of small modular reactor construction it says the Government will consider planning issues related to smaller reactors separately.
For more information see the Nuclear Free Local Authorities’ submission in February 2018 to the Government consultation on the updated National Policy Statement for new nuclear above 1GW post 2025: siting criteria and process: