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Energy: Nuclear Power Stations

Volume 707: debated on Tuesday 27 January 2009


My honourable friend the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change Mike O’Brien has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 22 July 2008 (Official Report, Commons, col. 83WS), my right honourable friend the then Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform announced the publication of a consultation document on the strategic siting assessment process and criteria for new nuclear power stations and an accompanying environmental study.

A year on from the nuclear White Paper I am pleased to announce today the publication of the government response to the consultation and study, which sets out the process for taking forward the siting of new nuclear power stations.

The strategic siting assessment (SSA) is a process for identifying and assessing sites which are strategically suitable for the deployment of new nuclear power stations by the end of 2025. The SSA will provide an opportunity for the Government to assess the suitability of nominated sites at the national level. Sites which have been assessed as being suitable will be listed on the nuclear national policy statement (NPS), which will provide guidance to the forthcoming Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

The government response contains an outline of the key themes which arose from the consultation on the SSA process and criteria, and the environmental study in relation to the criteria, together with the Government’s response and the finalised criteria. It also summarises comments on the habitats screening report and the Government’s response. The screening report was not the subject of public consultation. Views were instead sought from interested parties.

In response to points made in the consultation, the government response contains guidance to nominators who wish to nominate a site to be assessed within the SSA and a nomination form. Nominations to the SSA are due by 31 March 2009.

The Government will publish nominations and the public will have a month to give the Government their initial comments, prior and in addition to public consultation later in the year.

The assessment will be made by government using the advice of specialists, including regulators and others. The output of the SSA will be a draft list of the sites that government have assessed to be strategically suitable, and these will form a key component of the draft nuclear NPS, which will undergo public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny.

Today’s announcement underlines the Government’s commitment to the development of new nuclear capacity and maintains the necessary momentum towards our climate change and energy security goals.

Copies of the government response will be placed in the Libraries of the House immediately following publication.