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National Nuclear Policy Statement

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 9 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the cost has been of each regional hearing organised by his Department since publication of the National Nuclear Policy Statement on 9 November 2009 inviting residents to have their say on proposals to build a new nuclear power station in their area; how many departmental officials attended each meeting; how many incurred overnight stays in each case, and at what cost; and whether provision has been made to defray the costs of interested parties in travelling and staying overnight to enable attendance at such meetings. (304415)

The Planning Act 2008 requires the Government to consult the public and stakeholders on the draft National Policy Statements (NPSs) before they can be designated. The consultation is ongoing and therefore we do not yet have detailed costs associated with each event. We estimate that, on average, each of the 10 events, including design, strategic planning, production, marketing, staffing and transport, will cost in the region of about £60,000. Between four and seven DECC staff attend each event over the course of each three-day exhibition (open from 8 am to 8 pm) and public meeting. Accommodation and subsistence costs are not finalised at this early stage in the consultation and we would expect that these will vary depending on the location. However, we would expect all these costs to be within civil service guidelines, with hotels costing around £60 per person per night for example.

The primary target audience of the Nuclear NPS events is the local community, therefore we would not expect members of the public to incur accommodation costs and only limited travel costs to attend the events. Venues were chosen to be as close to the proposed nuclear power station site. We took into account a number of principles which helped us in choosing the exhibition location . These included:

Journey time to proposed site

Historic evidence of attendance levels to similar consultations

Existence of multiple proposed sites in one area

A wide range of venues were considered for each location. Suggested venues have been recommended by local authorities and energy companies (who have undertaken similar events in the past) and we have endeavoured to use as many of these recommendations as possible. The priority was finding the largest possible venues, nearest to the site.