Background – how did we get to eight nuclear sites?
In January 2008 the UK Government published a Nuclear White Paper called Meeting the Energy Challenge which said that new nuclear stations should have a role in the country’s future energy mix. After a Strategic Siting Assessment process which began in July 2008, the Government gave the nuclear industry two months until the end of March 2009 to nominate sites for new reactors.
Professor Andy Blowers said the siting criteria amounted to nothing less than a means of trying to justify putting a new generation of mega power stations and spent fuel waste stores on existing coastal sites most of which are likely to become submerged during the next century under the impact of sea level rise and storm surges. His paper, published in the TCPA’s distinguished monthly Journal, Town & Country Planning, is reproduced with kind permission.
The list of nominated sites was published on 15 April 2009. These were:-
- Hartlepool nominated by EDF Energy
- Heysham nominated by EDF Energy
- Dungeness nominated by EDF Energy
- Sellafield nominated by NDA
- Kirksanton nominated by RWE
- Braystones nominated by RWE
- Wylfa Peninsula nominated by NDA and RWE
- Oldbury nominated by NDA and EON
- Hinkley Point nominated by EDF Energy
- Bradwell nominated by NDA
- Sizewell nominated by EDF Energy
The list included two coastal, green-field, sites in Cumbria : Braystones, about 3.5km from Sellafield near Egremont, and Kirksanton, near Millom, about 23km from Sellafield.
For further information on the Strategic Siting Assessment Process see New Nuclear Monitor No.16, April 2009.
After assessment those sites which were found to be suitable for the development of new nuclear power stations were listed in the draft Nuclear National Policy statement (NPS), which was first published for public consultation in November 2009, alongside draft NPSs covering other types of energy infrastructure and an Overarching NPS which gives guidance applicable to all energy infrastructure including nuclear power stations. The consultation on the draft Energy NPSs including the draft Nuclear NPS closed in February 2010. Before the first draft Nuclear NPS was published, Dungeness had been dropped from the list of possible sites, because of concerns about flooding.
For further information on the first National Policy Statement consultation see New Nuclear Monitor No.19.
A second consultation on a set of revised draft NPSs was conducted between October 2010 and January 2011. This second consultation dropped the two green field sites in Cumbria, leaving eight sites remaining. Material relating to both consultations on the Energy National Policy Statements can be found here.
For more information on this second consultation see New Nuclear Monitor No.26.
In December 2017 the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launched a new consultation on a proposed process and criteria for the designation of potentially suitable sites for nuclear power above 1GW single reactor capacity for deployment between 2026 and the end of 2035 in order to produce a new National Policy Statement (NPS).
In his introduction to the consultation document, the Minister for Energy and Industry at the time, Richard Harrington MP, admitted that the new nuclear programme has taken a long time to progress so it is now necessary to designate a new nuclear NPS to facilitate nuclear power stations at sites capable of deployment between 2026 and 2035.
There’s a No2 Nuclear Power briefing on the consultation here.
The Government responded to consultation submissions in July 2018. The Government said it would publish a draft NPS for public consultation in 2019, but by November 2020 it had still not appeared. 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. The White Paper also says the Government 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.
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.