British Energy continues preparation of potential sites for replacement nuclear

British Energy News, 27th November 2007

Government is expected to decide on the future of nuclear power early in 2008. If the decision is positive, a strategic assessment of siting is expected in 2008.

In the meantime, British Energy has commissioned a range of geological, environmental impact, marine, transmission system and other studies for its sites. In line with previous announcements, the Group will continue to invest prudently to maintain its sites as strong candidates for replacement build. This work will also ensure that development can proceed as quickly and efficiently as possible if the Government makes a positive decision.

CEO Bill Coley says: "Our existing sites all have potential for replacement nuclear and indeed we have suitable land at all locations. But it's about much more than land. We are building the foundations for replacement nuclear by continuing and strengthening our excellent relationships and dialogue with local communities. Our skilled and experienced staff also live locally and provide a healthy flow of skills and talent into the business. Our good relationships with our regulators and experience in UK regulation are also key factors, and we continue to work closely with the full range of nuclear industry regulators to meet some of the most stringent standards in the global nuclear industry."

The company has a range of activities underway to prepare its sites as candidates for replacement nuclear generation.

Protection of sites from climate change

Today, the company publishes a review of the engineering needs to protect British Energy's eight sites across the UK from the possible longer term impact of climate change.  The review, conducted by Halcrow Group, is based upon scenarios anticipated by the Met Office in a far-reaching study carried out for British Energy, published in January. 

The key conclusion is that flood defence and coast protection measures can be deployed to make replacement build a feasible option at all sites.  Relying solely on current engineering methods and knowledge the sites can be made robust against climate change impacts for the expected lifetimes of the replacement stations. Click here to read the review.

Environmental Impact Studies

British Energy is commissioning expert studies that will be needed to underpin comprehensive and robust Environmental Impact Assessments for any replacement build.  The detailed scope of these studies will vary depending on the site situation but they will include examinations of flora and fauna; fisheries and other marine ecology; landscape and visual amenity; hydrodynamics and coastal geomorphology; geology, hydrogeology, hydrology and soils; cultural, architectural and archaeological heritage; traffic and transport; human beings; and noise and air quality. The company has appointed Royal Haskoning to act as its lead adviser in developing these Environmental Assessments.

British Energy is also exploring the possibility of achieving the Biodiversity Benchmark in a phased programme of nuclear power station sites. The Biodiversity Benchmark enables any organisation to assess its impact on the natural world and improve its contribution to the environment, whilst demonstrating commitment to biodiversity. It is the first recognised scheme to award an organisation for its continual biodiversity improvement.

Grid Connections

At this stage grid access is likely to be an important constraining factor in siting. The ability to connect replacement nuclear stations to the grid will be a relevant factor for nuclear and indeed any generation type. The Company has entered into transmission connection agreements with National Grid for each of the key sites it owns in the South of England - at Sizewell, Hinkley, Dungeness and Bradwell - for grid access in the period from 2016 onwards.

Through these agreements British Energy has contracted the capacity needed for potential future nuclear development at these sites, subject to National Grid obtaining any necessary planning and other consents. We remain flexible at this stage about exactly how and when the sites might be developed and on issues like the choice of reactor design.

Stakeholder Engagement

Each power station currently has an active local community group with which it meets regularly and briefs on all topics of interest including possible replacement nuclear.

The Company has also sought to involve all its local stakeholders in the national debate on the future of nuclear power being taken forward by Government. In future, the company will be in extensive dialogue with local stakeholders and statutory consultees as it develops its proposals and identifies the scope of future studies.

Commenting on these activities, Paul Spence, British Energy's Head of Strategy and Business Development said:

"These activities are part of our on-going preparations to ensure that our sites are well placed for consideration as candidates for replacement nuclear power stations, if Government allow private sector generators that option.

"Assessing and protecting against the potential effects of climate change on our sites, which are all on the coast, is important for today's fleet and for any possible replacement nuclear build programme.

"The connection agreements give us the flexibility we need to accommodate a variety of plans for the future. They also give National Grid as much time as possible to plan and implement any infrastructure works that may be needed to allow for future stations."

- ENDS -

Notes for editors:

  1. As the UK's largest producer of electricity and the lowest carbon emitter of the UK's major electricity generators, British Energy owns and operates the eight most modern nuclear power stations in the country and is well placed to be at the heart of new nuclear.

  2. British Energy's nuclear power stations avoided the emission of over 30 million tonnes of CO2 last year.

  3. British Energy is the UK 's largest electricity generator employing over 6,000 people UK-wide and generating around one sixth of the UK 's electricity needs.

  4. The company owns and operates seven Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) power stations and the only Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) power station in the UK - Sizewell B in Suffolk .

  5. British Energy also operates Eggborough power station in Yorkshire and has interest in a number of renewable projects.

  6. In summary Halcrow's review found:
  • Sizewell - Similar to those already in place for the existing power station, 'soft' engineering measures using natural materials such as landscaped sand banks should be used. Both these and the station structures could be set back by a short distance to accommodate any future coastal erosion.
  • Hinkley - An extension of the existing constructed cliff protection measures should be used to prevent erosion, with the station structures set back from the cliff line.   No flood risks for this elevated site are predicted.
  • Dungeness - The station structures should be stepped back to accommodate future coastal erosion, with appropriate flood defences also set back to absorb the increasing erosive force.
  • Bradwell - The site of the station structures should be raised, and the existing coastal protection and flood defences upgraded and maintained to mitigate against increasing erosive potential and flood risk.
  • Hartlepool - The existing coastal protection and flood defences should be raised and then maintained to mitigate against expected increases in erosion potential and flood risk.
  • Heysham - The existing coastal protection and flood protection measures should be maintained and improved. No further measures are likely to be required.
  • Hunterston - The existing coastal protection measures may need to be upgraded. No further measures for flood protection are likely to be required.
  • Torness - The existing coastal protection and flood defence measures should be maintained and improved as necessary. No further measures are likely to be needed.


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