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Nuclear Power

Volume 130: debated on Monday 21 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is Her Majesty's Government's policy towards proposals by the Central Electricity Generating Board to build new nuclear generating capacity, in the context of the overall development of national electricity supplies.

[pursuant to his reply 17 December 1987, c. 639–640]: It appears to me, on the information so far available to me, that the following economic, safety, environmental and planning matters are likely to be relevant to my consideration of the CEGB's application to construct a pressurised water reactor at Hinkley Point:

  • (1) the applicant's requirement for the power station (particularly in the light of Government policy as set out in the answer given on 17 December 1987 and in the White Paper "Privatising Electricity" (Cm. 322), in particular paragraphs 44–49);
  • (2) the safety feature of the design, construction and operation of the station, taking into account the conclusions on the safety of the Sizewell B PWR contained in the report of Sir Frank Layfield QC and the views of the nuclear installations inspectorate, as representing the Health and Safety Executive (the licensing authority);
  • (3) the on-site management of radioactive waste arising from the station and radioactive discharges from the station to the environment in the light of the views of the authorising Departments; and
  • (4) the implications of the proposed development (including construction, operation and decommissioning) for: (a) agriculture and fisheries; (b) the local economy including employment; (c) water supply and disposal; (d) transport requirements; (e) coast protection and sea defences; (f) housing and public services generally; (g) local amenities and in particular areas of special landscape value or nature conservation interest; (h) emergency arrangements.
  • I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Mr. Michael Barnes, QC, to act as inspector at the public inquiry. The inspector will hold a first pre-inquiry meeting, starting on 1 June 1988, at the Somerset college of agriculture and horticulture at Cannington near Hinkley Point and it is expected that a second pre-inquiry meeting will be held in the period 12–14 July 1988.I consider it impracticable to open a major inquiry of this kind in a busy holiday area during the season. The inquiry is therefore expected to open on 4 October 1988, the earliest date I consider practicable. Further details about the second pre-inquiry meeting and the inquiry itself, including details of the times and places, will be announced at a later date.The inquiry will also consider the CEGB's separate application for my consent to realign the final span of each of the Hinkley Point-Melksham and Hinkley Point-Taunton double circut of 400 kV overhead transmission lines.The electricity generating stations and overhead lines (inquiries procedure) rules 1987 will apply to the inquiry. The code of practice "Electricity Generating Stations and Overhead Lines — Preparing for Major Inquiries in England and Wales" will also apply. I have placed a copy of the code of practice in the Libraries of both Houses.