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Draft criteria and process for siting potential new nuclear power stations published

Draft criteria and process for siting potential new nuclear power stations published

DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM News Release (2008/148) issued by The Government News Network on 22 July 2008

The detailed criteria and process for assessing where new nuclear power stations could safely and securely be built across England and Wales have been set out by the Government today.

The consultation on the Strategic Siting Assessment outlines the process the Government will use for identifying suitable sites for new nuclear power stations. The Government is proposing to invite third parties to nominate sites which it will then assess against a range of criteria.

The consultation also sets out the various criteria that would be applied in making that assessment - including those that would automatically rule out sites. The sites identified through this process will still need to be considered through the planning process. Government is also publishing an environmental study alongside the consultation.

The latest development forms part of the measures that the Government is putting into place to open up opportunities for nuclear power investment in the UK.

Business Secretary John Hutton said:

"Nuclear power is an essential part of our future energy mix. And, alongside a ten fold increase in renewables and investment in clean coal technology, it will help wean us off our dependency on oil and protect us against the politicisation of energy supplies.

"So, we must do everything we can to remove any remaining barriers and open up the UK as the most attractive place in the world to invest in nuclear power.

"The strategic siting assessment is the next step towards a Nuclear National Policy Statement. This will help to speed up planning applications while making clear that safety and engagement with local communities are key."

The consultation outlines a number of 'exclusionary' and 'discretionary' criteria:

* Exclusionary criteria relate to the fundamental suitability of a site and will be used to 'screen out' unacceptable locations. This includes seismic risk, capable faulting and proximity to heavily populated areas.

* 'Discretionary' criteria are those that could make a site unsuitable, subject to further consideration. These include less absolute issues and will be used to form a balanced view of the site's suitability, such as flooding, coastal conditions and areas that are environmentally protected.

The Department expects to have finalised the criteria by early 2009, and will at that time open the invitation for the nomination of sites that could be suitable for new nuclear generation by 2025. In 2010, a National Policy Statement will be published which would include a list of the sites assessed as strategically suitable for building new power stations. Subject to Parliamentary approval of the Planning Bill, this would in turn guide the work of the Infrastructure Planning Commission in dealing with specific planning applications on those sites. It will be the Infrastructure Planning Commission that would decide on applications from developers. If approval is given, it is expected that construction of new nuclear power stations could begin in 2013-2014, in time for producing energy from 2017-2020.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The consultation on the Strategic Siting Process will close on 11 November 2008. The SSA consultation and related documents can be found at http://www.berr.gov.uk/energy/nuclear-whitepaper/consultations/page44523.html

2. Alongside the SSA, a study of the environmental and sustainability effects of the proposed criteria and a Habitats Regulations Assessment Screening Report have also been published.

3. This consultation today follows the publication on 10 January of the nuclear white paper. This set out that the Government believes it is in the public interest that new nuclear power stations should have a role to play in this country's future energy mix alongside other low-carbon sources and that the Government should take active steps to open up the way to the construction of new nuclear power stations.

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