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781: Government consults on new nuclear NPS strategy

News and ViewsBlogsPlanning Act 2008781: Government consults on new nuclear NPS strategy
781: Government consults on new nuclear NPS strategy
Leave your thoughts Angus Walker

By Angus Walker

Today’s entry reports on the launch of a consultation on steps towards a new nuclear National Policy Statement.

Yesterday the government launched a new National Policy Statement (NPS) consultation, as if the two that are currently running weren’t enough (airports and water). Unlike the consultation on new towns with four weeks allowed over Christmas and New Year, this one has a generous timetable of over three months and expires on 15 March 2018.

The consultation is on preparatory steps towards a Nuclear Power NPS to cover the period 2026-2035, given that the current NPS, codename EN-6, was to ‘facilitate the delivery of new nuclear power electricity generation on some or all of the sites listed in this NPS by the end of 2025.’

That went well, didn’t it, with only one out of the eight identified sites making an application so far, never mind getting consent, although that one did get consent, of course being for the Hinkley Point C project. The consultation document brightly says:

‘EN-6 has successfully facilitated the granting of a Development Consent Order (DCO) for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in March 2013 and further nuclear projects are planning to make applications for DCOs in due course.’

The consultation document is here.

In essence what is proposed is:

  • the new NPS will apply to 1GW-plus nuclear reactors but that is immaterial because…
  • only the seven that were in the previous NPS but not consented will be eligible to be in the new one;
  • the siting criteria will be updated and reapplied and the developers of the seven sites will be asked if they are still interested and if their land requirements have changed;
  • new sites will not be considered until the 2020s;
  • suggestions for how new sites can be nominated when the time comes are set out;
  • the existing NPS will still stand, should any of the seven wish to make applications before 2025; and
  • the NPS is likely to be published in autumn 2018 and designated in autumn 2019.

It looks as though the new NPS will have codename NPS62 (see paragraph 3.14), but that just turns out to be a footnote with the wrong font size.

There are just four consultation questions, listed in a ‘catalogue’ on page 8 – two on the suitability criteria, one on the designation process, one on the future site nomination process

Commentary

Given that the old NPS is already six and a half years old, I would have thought it worth updating it rather than leaving it in place for another eight years, ie that the new NPS should replace and extend the old one rather than sit alongside it. But I wouldn’t want to cause any delay or abortive work for the seven potential developers, some of whose plans are fairly well advanced. That will of course be an issue for any NPS that gets updated.

The new site selection process will consist of an eight-week window of which there will be at least four weeks’ notice. Developers will have to demonstrate some level of local consultation so will presumably have to have done that before they get notice of the nomination window since it’s quite short.

Also, given the ongoing consultation on national security and infrastructure, it might be an idea that the nomination of new sites includes the same criteria proposed for ownership of critical infrastructure.

Finally, note that although this NPS is to apply to 1GW reactors and above, it still means that sub-1GW reactors will have to use the Planning Act regime – to remove them would require a change to the threshold in the Act itself and is not something an NPS can do.

Christmas champagne competition

The competition is running until 5 January and I haven’t had any fully correct entries yet. If you are wondering how to embark on further steps, decrypting it isn’t enough but the cryptogram is all you need to progress. Here it is again:

Slyy acdl! Dcs ncr uel ewra owru. Uelrl wrl wdcuelr usc quloq uc qcytl uel omxxyl nmyyi.

8 December 2017

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