The Sizewell C process will provide important experience for a third new station, planned for Bradwell in Essex. This will also be on the east coast, although further south, and is adjacent to the existing Bradwell A plant (which ceased operation in 2002 and has been in the care and maintenance phase since 2018). The Bradwell project is in early discussions with National Infrastructure Planning but has not yet indicated when it will enter the formal process — the Chinese HPR1000 design to be employed only recently entered its licensing process at the Office for Nuclear Regulation. But scoping documents suggest that construction of the Proposed Development will take place over 9 to 12 years and will require facilities for around 4500 temporary staff. The document also notes that within 10km of the main development site there are 14 sites that are internationally and 11 that are nationally designated (generally for wildlife or landscape value), of which eight are within or very close to the main development site. A number of heritage assets are located within the main development site including three scheduled monuments. These are not insuperable objections but they are significant, both nationally and in winning local support for a project, as a selection of comments from recent public hearings held as part of the Sizewell C examination, reveals. The four days of hearings — online instead of in person, due to Covid restrictions — was largely a forum allowing local people to raise concerns, so they naturally saw local issues raised, rather than fears over nuclear safety or waste, although several speakers did raise specifically nuclear concerns. Among those, witnesses thought the reactor design was too powerful and not proven in use, was slow to build and the site was vulnerable to sea level rise. They also asked about whether the broader process was properly considered, and specifically whether EDF should have the funding model in place before seeking development consent. The funding model is currently under consideration by government and is expected to be on some form of regulated asset basis. Some objections over the plant, which is a major development in an area that is largely rural with small towns, focused on the effect on the relatively sparse local infrastructure and the loss of access to natural amenities such as beaches. Although the effects on both were acknowledged to be in large part temporary, nevertheless the construction timescale of a decade or more was considered ‘long term’ for parents with concerns about children or retirees who had moved to the area for its rural nature. An argument that the project would bring long term highly-skilled jobs to the region also with construction jobs — a key positive for supporters of the plant — were countered by fears over the region’s existing jobs. One witness said “the tourism industry was certainly on the last figures worth about 40,000 jobs, and was growing by 5% a year”. The permanent jobs offered by the new plant represent only “about one year’s growth in tourism,” they said.
Nuclear Engineering International 22nd July 2021 read more »