Views sought on Sizewell C nuclear power station permits

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THE ENVIRONMENT Agency is seeking feedback from the community and national stakeholders on applications for three environmental permits required for operation of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station.

EDF SZC Co is looking to build a new nuclear power station next to Sizewell B in Suffolk.

As well as regulating the proposed site, through these environmental permits, the Environment Agency also provides advice and information to the Planning Inspectorate on a whole manner of subjects, including the protection of water quality and ecology; and flood and coastal risk management.

These three permits were submitted to the Environment Agency last month.

They cover the controls that EDF SZC Co need to put into place to ensure high standards of environmental protection during commissioning, operation and decommissioning.

The three main operational permits sought are for: disposals and discharges of radioactive wastes; operation of standby power supply systems using diesel generators; and discharges of cooling water and liquid effluent into the North Sea.

Consultations on the three permit applications are running at the same time in order to give people a clear opportunity to find out about all the relevant information through one process.

The Environment Agency’s Nuclear New Build Project Manager, Simon Barlow, commented: “These applications represent the culmination of 10 years of pre-application discussions with EDF SZC Co.

“We welcome people’s views on these permit applications and will carefully consider their comments before we progress to the next stage of our decision making process.

“As these applications relate to the disposal and discharge of radioactive waste; operation of standby power supply systems using diesel generators; and discharges of cooling water and liquid effluent into the North Sea they will all have implications for the environment and should be rigorously examined – hence our consultation.

“After we have reviewed the applications, our next stage will be to conduct a further consultation on our draft decisions, when members of the public will have another opportunity to provide us with their comments.

“We appreciate that there are currently limitations on people’s movements and accessibility challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, so we will be taking measures to ensure everyone can have access to the relevant documents and direct contact with Environment Agency officers, to ask questions and discuss their concerns.”

The consultation on the application will run from 6 July 2020 for 12 weeks.

The Environment Agency must decide whether to grant or refuse the issue of the permits.

If it grants a permit, the Environment Agency can include conditions to ensure proper protection of people and the environment.

The environmental permit applications for Sizewell C can be found here

During and after the 12 weeks, Environment Agency experts will be carrying out technical assessments of the applications and will consider comments.

Later, when we have reached a draft decision on the permits, a further 12 week period of consultation will be held to share our views and seek further feedback before making any final decisions.

At that stage we’ll run a series of drop-in events (coronavirus restrictions permitting) so that people can ask questions of our staff.

The Environment Agency is the independent environmental regulator for the nuclear industry in England.

It makes sure that nuclear power stations meet its high standards of environmental protection.

It regulates the Sizewell sites working closely with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

The Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Regulation have already completed their assessment of the UK EPR reactor design that EDF SZC Co is proposing for its Sizewell C site.

The assessment process ended in December 2012 and the Environment Agency and ONR concluded that the reactor design is ‘acceptable’.

This means that people and the environment will be properly protected if this reactor design is constructed and operated in the UK.