The Sizewell nuclear power station DCO application was made back in May 2020 and its examination is finally under way. On Wednesday the Examining Authority of five inspectors issued its first set of written questions. I have, as I always do, undertaken the task of counting the questions, making what I think are reasonable decisions along the way about what is a single question and what is more than one despite having one reference. Others’ calculated totals may therefore vary. Before I reveal the total let us note that the first nuclear power DCO application was for Hinkley Point C in October 2011 and had just 17 questions in the first round. Those were the days. The second nuclear power DCO application was for Wylfa Newydd in June 2018 and had a record 1,006 questions, around 300 more than the previous record for any DCO application. Each question can vary dramatically in the amount of work required to answer it. For example, Sizewell question DCO.1.115 merely says ‘Schedule 20 paragraph 45: Small typo “untilo”‘, whereas DCO.1.135 says (in essence); ‘please will the Applicant take into account any comments made by the Wylfa ExA [in its report] when preparing the next drafts of the DCO and the Explanatory Memorandum and explain why it proposes or rejects them’. OK, the answer could be ‘yes’ but that’s a lot of work for the next draft of the DCO. The raw number is therefore only a rough guide as to how much work is involved in preparing the answers, which must be submitted by 2 June – six weeks rather than the usual four! The questions are divided into no fewer than six separate documents this time (I think the first time there have been more than one), with a covering document linking to them all and also containing abbreviations and definitions. One volume is devoted to biodiversity and habitats alone. In total, I make it, drum roll please, 2,229 questions. Yes, more than double, and an increase of over 1,200 on, the previous record. Woe betide anyone who submits another nuclear DCO as they are on track to get over 3,000 questions. Maybe the fact that the Examining Authority was appointed in July last year means they have had more time than usual to pore over the application come up with questions.
BDB Pitmans 23rd April 2021 read more »