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Nuclear Power Stations

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what planning permission would be required to build new nuclear power stations on existing sites in (a) England and Wales and (b) Scotland. (74599)

[holding answer 5 June 2006]: Any new proposal over 50 MW in England and Wales would require consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 and “deemed” planning permission under section 90 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. For Scotland, similar powers are exercised by Scottish Ministers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research his Department has undertaken into the likely effects on coastally located licensed nuclear sites of (a) coastal erosion and (b) inundation due to sea-level rise. (75369)

The Office of Science and Technology (OST) has conducted a major study on the future of flooding and coastal erosion as part of the Foresight Programme, http://www.foresight.gov.uk/Previous_Projects/Flood_and_Coastal Defence/index. html.

Operators of nuclear sites such as British Nuclear Group and British Energy are responsible for flood defences and for protecting the site against coastal erosion. Nearly all of the sites are situated on the coast and rest behind sea defences, which are maintained to a very high standard. Reviews are made periodically to monitor long-term protection, and regional shoreline management plans have been developed on behalf of the coastal authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many jobs the Department estimates will be created as a result of the decommissioning of and clean-up operations for Wylfa nuclear power station; and if he will make a statement. (75609)

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has responsibility for the decommissioning and clean-up of the UK's historic nuclear legacy—including the Magnox nuclear power station at Wylfa.

The current NDA expectation is that Wylfa will close at the end of 2010. Wylfa's plans for decommissioning and clean-up are still in preparation and job requirements have not yet been finalised. But in preparation for the defuelling and decommissioning phase of care and maintenance the NDA have prepared indicative numbers (derived from Wylfa's current plans) which indicate that at the end of operations, job numbers (both staff and subcontractors) will be about 700 by 2010, reducing to 160 by 2024. In so far as is practicable, the NDA will seek to ensure that employees who wish to stay with a site through to its next phase are able to remain in employment and receive appropriate support, development and retraining. Subcontractors currently providing site support are expected to continue to do so during the defuelling and decommissioning phases. On this basis, to be significant new opportunities for employment are unlikely.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which (a) nuclear power stations and (b) nuclear waste storage sites his Department assesses to be at risk from (i) sea-level rise, (ii) coastal erosion, (iii) seawater inundation and (iv) storm surges in the next (A) 10, (B) 20 and (C) 50 years; and if he will make a statement. (75614)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) license all nuclear power stations under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965. Flood risks, which are enhanced by coastal erosion, are one category of external hazards that HSE require to be addressed in safety cases for nuclear plants.

Safety cases are prepared by the plant operator. They are routinely reviewed through the Periodic Safety Review (PSR) Process, which allows for recent and future extrapolations to be reviewed. They are scrutinised and then reviewed periodically (at intervals not greater than 10 years) by HSE. This provides an opportunity to ensure that operators are updating their predictions. The cost of HSE reviewing safety cases is recovered from the industry.

The Office of Science and Technology (OST) has conducted a major study for the Foresight programme on the future of coastal erosion:

http://www. foresight. gov.uk/Previous_Projects/Flood_and_ Coastal_Defence/index.html

The study looked ahead into the next 30-100 years and considered the future risks from flooding and costal erosion. Future predicted erosion rates were found to be location specific, and are likely to be extremely variable.

The following coastal defence work is taking place, or is proposed, in the proximity of nuclear power plants:

At Berkley, Gloucestershire, a proposed sea wall repair will provide protection for 25 years. At Dungeness, Kent, a beach-feeding programme is routinely undertaken to protect the foreshore and is likely to be maintained until at least 2018 (when Dungeness B is expected to end). Long term management options for the area adjacent to the power station are under consideration.

At Hartlepool, a proposal to extend a marine cycling facility navigation channel may require that the coastal defences of the power station be reinforced. Discussions with the developer are underway.

At Sizewell B, Suffolk, the frontage of the adjacent Minsmere Bird Reserve is not secure and long tern management options are being considered.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority and British Energy have confirmed that there are no foreseeable risks to their nuclear power station or nuclear storage sites from sea-level rises, coastal erosion, seawater inundation and storm surges.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment has been made of the effects of future possible (a) sea-level rise and (b) coastal erosion at (i) existing and (ii) potential nuclear sites; and if he will make a statement. (75615)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) license all nuclear power stations under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965. Flood risks, which are enhanced by coastal erosion, are one category of external hazards that HSE require to be addressed in safety cases for nuclear plants.

Safety cases are prepared by the plant operator, They are routinely reviewed through the Periodic Safety Review (PSR) process, which allows for recent and future extrapolations to be reviewed. They are scrutinised and then reviewed periodically (at intervals not greater than 10 years) by HSE. This provides an opportunity to ensure that operators are updating their predictions. The cost of HSE reviewing safety cases is recovered from the industry.

The Office of Science and Technology (OST) has conducted a major study for the Foresight programme on the future of coastal erosion;

http://www.foresight.gov.uk/Previous_Projects/Flood_and_ Coastal_Defence/index.html

The study looked ahead into the next 30-100 years and considered the future risks from flooding and costal erosion. Future predicted erosion rates were found to be location specific, and are likely to be extremely variable.

The following coastal defence work is taking place, or is proposed, in the proximity of nuclear power plants:

At Berkley, Gloucestershire, a proposed sea wall repair will provide protection for 25 years. At Dungeness, Kent, a beach-feeding programme is routinely undertaken to protect the foreshore and is likely to be maintained until at least 2018 (when Dungeness B is expected to end). Long-term management options for the area adjacent to the power station are under consideration.

At Hartlepool, a proposal to extend a marine cycling facility navigation channel may require that the coastal defences of the power station be reinforced. Discussions with the developer are under way.

At Sizewell B, Suffolk, the frontage of the adjacent Minsmere Bird Reserve is not secure and long tern management options are being considered.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority and British Energy have confirmed that there are no foreseeable risks to their nuclear power station or nuclear storage sites from sea-level rises, coastal erosion, seawater inundation and storm surges.

As regards potential nuclear sites, the role of civil nuclear power including safety, cost, decommissioning and waste, is being considered as part of the Energy Review alongside other options to ensure the UK remains on track to meet its medium and long-term energy policy goals. The Energy Review will report in the summer.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what incidents at nuclear power installations in the United Kingdom have been reported to Ministers by the Health and Safety Executive since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (75624)

There have been 57 incidents at nuclear power stations since 1997, which met the ministerial reporting criteria. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publish details of these incidents in their quarterly statements.

Quarterly statements of nuclear incidents at nuclear installations from 1 October 2000 are available on the HSE website at:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/quarterly-stat/index.htm

Hard copies of quarterly statements from 1 January 1997 and September 2000 have been placed in the Library of the House.