Jim Duffy | 15.07.2010 20:22
The announcement throws the planning process into some confusion as there will be no list of nuclear sites with which developers such as EdF can line up their planning applications.
The text of the announcement suggests that the Government fears being challenged over aspects of the Policy Statements which may not be legally watertight. The suggestion is that the re-consultation and consequent delay will benefit the developers in terms of certainty but oddly states that a nuclear power station is still possible by 2018.
Friends of the Earth earlier this year promised to mount a legal challenge over the first NPS consultation framework. RSPB, World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace all hinted strongly that aspects of the NPS were open to challenge.
The specific parts of the Policy Statements highlighted by the announcement are called Appraisals of Sustainability. The AoS must for example include 'comparison with reasonable alternatives to the preferred policy'. In other words renewable energy should be thoroughly investigated as an alternative to the policy of introducing new nuclear power at any specific site.
Other planning anomalies have been raised by campaigners such as the fact that no new reactor designs will have been licensed by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) while being assessed by the IPC (or its successor). The Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process, whose current reactor design assessment is expected to be finished in June next year, is not legally binding and separate from the NII licensing process. Objections have also been raised over the transparency of the GDA process.
The planning and licensing process seems to have lots of 'carts before horses'.
Hinkley Point was the subject of a planning application in 2006 for a twelve turbine wind-farm, later rejected by local planners, despite over 4,000 signatures in its support, following objections on safety grounds by British Energy, now owned by EdF. British Energy also objected on the grounds that developers may want to build a nuclear power station on the same site in the future.
The National Policy Statements are blueprints by which the newly created Infrastructure Planning Commission can judge applications. Without the Policy Statements, duly designated and signed-off by the Secretary of State, it is difficult to see how the applications for nuclear power stations such as Hinkley C can be scrutinised.
However a spokesman for the Infrastructure planning Commission said to Stop Hinkley that a case could still be examined and a recommendation made 'under a hierarchy of policy'. When asked how the public or even the IPC commissioners could judge what questions to put in the planning process without a blueprint we were told they would come back to us after seeking advice.
The IPC's future was also touched on in today's announcement, as the Conservatives and Liberals had both promised changes to the planning quango. Another announcement will be made in the summer.
Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator said: "This was a surprise announcement which raises lots of questions: Will the alternatives to nuclear be thoroughly examined in the new consultation? Will the Hinkley C application be allowed to go ahead as planned in December? If so how will it be managed in the absence of a planning blueprint? And what status will the new reactor licensing team have, pending approval from the safety regulator, during the 'fast-track' planning process?"
"A nine month delay from the Government on top of EdF's six-month planning application (1) delay looks likely to affect their hopes for a 2018 opening of the two massive reactors at Hinkley C. DECC must have become twitchy at the prospect that the widely criticised Policy Statements pushed through by the Labour Party were not legally watertight. It may be that the Government has not sufficiently examined the prospects for renewable energy as a sustainable alternative to nuclear and the Liberal Democrats have pushed for a re-evaluation."
Stop Hinkley Coordinator
(1) IPC projects, see page 2.
The first application was originally listed as 2nd August 2010, already put back from July as stated in EdF's newsletters. The IPC confirmed that the planning application dates are put forward by the 'applicants' and not changed by the IPC, contrary to EdF's statement on their delay:
The DECC re-consultation is separate from the EdF second stage consultation on proposals for Hinkley Point which opened on 9th July ending on 4th October.
Organisation: Department of Energy and Climate Change
WMS: Consultation for draft energy national policy statements
The WMS regarding the consultation for draft Energy National Policy Statements has now been published.
Consultation for draft Energy National Policy Statements
Written statement by Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State for Energy
Today I am announcing that the Government will be launching a re-consultation in the autumn on the draft energy National Policy Statements following the consultation undertaken by the previous administration earlier this year, and in particular due to changes which have been made to the Appraisal of Sustainability for the Overarching Energy National Policy Statement.
The revised statements will give investors the certainty they need to bring forward proposals to maintain security of supply and ensure progress towards decarbonisation and plans for the first new nuclear power station to begin generating electricity by 2018 remain on course.
We intend to present the finalised statements to Parliament for ratification next Spring. A detailed implementation plan for planning reform on major infrastructure - including transitional arrangements and a revised timetable - will be published later in the summer.
Read on Dods Monitoring
Organisation: Department of Energy and Climate Change
Consultation on draft national policy statements for energy
The Government's draft National Policy Statements for energy infrastructure will be strengthened, it was announced today.
Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy said:
"For large energy projects we need to give industry maximum certainty, so that if sound proposals come forward, they will not fall victim to unnecessary hold-ups.
"We have decided to take a further look at the Appraisal of Sustainability of our draft Energy Policy Statements to make sure that they are fit for purpose. Taking this decision now is essential to safeguard our long-term goal of a sustainable and secure energy supply".
Plans for the first new nuclear power station to begin generating electricity by 2018 remain on course.
DECC has already consulted on the Energy National Policy Statements. Having considered the responses to that consultation, we have decided to take a further look at the Appraisals of Sustainability (AoSs) of the NPSs. The reconsultation will provide a chance to look at the reworked AoS and the changes to the draft NPSs.
Under the Planning Act 2008[External link] an appraisal of sustainability (AoS) must be carried out on the policies set out in any NPS before it is designated. An AoS is an assessment of the environmental, social and economic impacts of implementing a policy, and includes comparison with reasonable alternatives to the preferred policy.
The Nuclear Development Forum, taking place today, brings together senior figures at CEO level from the nuclear industry, regulators, wider supply chain companies and skills bodies who are involved in making a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK a reality.
Original article on IMC Bristol: http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/692729