Opinion sought on the environmental permits for the Sizewell C nuclear power station

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The Environment Agency has launched a 12-week public consultation on 3 environmental permits for the operation of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station.

It invites feedback from the community and all stakeholders between July 4 and September 25, 2022.

NNB Generation Company (Sizewell C) wants to build a new nuclear power station next to Sizewell B in Suffolk. It applied for the 3 environmental permits in May 2020 and the Environment Agency was consulted on these applications from July 6, 2020 to October 2, 2020.

Each permit is an important regulatory authorization that the company needs to operate the power plant. They cover the controls that the company must put in place to ensure high standards of environmental protection during commissioning, operation and decommissioning.

If granted, the permits would allow Sizewell C to:

  • eliminate and discharge radioactive waste (activity authorization for radioactive substances),
  • operate emergency power systems using diesel generators (burning activity permit), and,
  • discharging cooling water and liquid effluents into the North Sea (water discharge activity permit).

Public stops will take place as part of the consultation, where people can meet a specialist from the Environment Agency. They can discuss proposed decision documents, draft permits and supporting assessments.

The Environment Agency’s Sizewell C project manager, Simon Barlow, said:

Our proposed decision is to issue the permits for the 3 operational activities, subject to the consultation process. These permit projects represent more than 10 years of pre-application discussions with EDF SZC Co.

We have set out our reasoning in supporting documents and assessments.

The company applied for these permits many years before operating the station. If we grant these permits at the start of the project, it will help us to positively influence the design, procurement and commissioning of the power plant, while ensuring the protection of the environment and wildlife.

We want our decisions to be better informed through consultation and want to hear people’s views on our proposed decisions.

If you have relevant information that you think we have missed, you can provide your comments, which we will consider carefully, before making our final decision in early 2023.

The draft permits, decision proposals and other supporting documents are available online where you can also respond to the consultation:

If you would like to subscribe to the Environment Agency’s e-newsletters on the work and regulations of the Sizewell C project, contact: SizewellCNNB@environment-agency.gov.uk

Ends

Notes for Editors

About Us

The Environment Agency is the independent environmental regulator for the nuclear industry in England. We ensure that nuclear power plants meet high environmental protection standards.

The Environment Agency regulates environmental issues specific to nuclear sites in England by issuing environmental permits. These permits cover site preparation, construction, operation and decommissioning.

Any company wishing to operate a nuclear power plant must demonstrate that it can build, commission, operate and decommission it safely, while protecting the environment and managing radioactive waste.

We also work closely with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), which regulates the safety and security aspects of Sizewell’s nuclear sites.

In addition to regulating the proposed site, through these environmental permits, the Environment Agency also provides advice and information to the Planning Inspectorate, including water quality protection and ecology, and flood and coastal risk management.

This consultation and what happens next

The Environment Agency has consulted and assessed the applications, and its proposed decision is to issue the permits subject to the specified limits and conditions. Findings from our other assessments, for example, Radiological Impact Assessment, Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA), Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW), Directive- water frame) also support this view.

We have assessed the risks to designated habitats and species and consider that the proposed activities will not adversely affect European sites or damage Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Our consultation does not relate to the UK EPR™ design. It is not about the need for nuclear power, the UK’s energy policy, the location of nuclear power stations, or the safety and security of the design.

During and after the 12 weeks, experts from the Environment Agency will consider comments and other feedback before making a final decision.

Online consultation site

Talk to our staff at events:

  • Thursday 14 July, 2-7.30 p.m., Saxmundham Market Hall, High Street, IP17 1AF
  • Friday 15 July, 2-7.30pm, Aldeburgh Parish Church, Church Hall, Victoria Road, IP15 5DU
  • Saturday July 16, 9am-1.30pm, Leiston Community Centre, King George’s Avenue, IP16 4JX

Evaluation of new nuclear power plant designs

We have previously worked with the Office for Nuclear Regulation to carry out a generic design assessment on the proposed design for Sizewell C, known as EDF-Areva’s UK EPR™.

This evaluation process was completed in December 2012 and the Environment Agency and ONR concluded that the reactor design was “acceptable”. This means that people and the environment will be adequately protected if this reactor design is built and operated in the UK.

This design is currently under construction at Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

For more information on our role in new nuclear build visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sizewell-nuclear-regulation


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