Planning Case No DC/14/4224/FUL - EdF/Aldhurst Farm

To: Lisa Chandler, SCDC Case Officer

From: Regan Scott, Field End, Grundisburgh Road, Gt Bealings IP136PE.

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel 01473 735308

13th February, 2015

Objection: Habitat development by EdF at Aldhurst Farm, Leiston

Summary This proposal is out of place, time and order.

It is too close to the high and known risks of a vast, long-life construction site, and too close to what will be a huge nuclear reactor site and waste store park, and irradiated former nuclear site.

It’s timing should be dictated both by risk avoidance (proximity to works - above) and equally by regulatory compliance, not public relations. The application should be delayed until at least construction work has been completed and the contextual environmental equilibrium has been restored.

Notwithstanding place and timing, it is out of order as a BAP (Biodiversity Acton Plan) under whatever specific regulatory guise it may be being pursued, because it should fall under the ongoing consultation and scoping approval authority of the National Planning Inspectorate. Views and requirements on the overall project have already been processed from specialist statutory consultees with duties on environmental matters. The project also falls within EdF’s own initial study zones for impact assessment, and by their own admission is being pursued prior to a methodology of appropriate assessment being proposed and agreed (see EdF Stage 1 Environmental Report, November 2012)

Comments

  1. If it is pursued and processed as a change of land use, it will need eventually to pass equivalence tests to ‘mitigate’ for an SSSI, in respect of existing SSSI characteristics. What pubic gain can be had by bringing this project forward by maybe as much as 10 to 15 years, bearing in mind the heavy and proveable exposure to contextual risk from the construction works in that period ? What public value can be had from a rushed decision which might fail eventually to qualify as of equivalent protected standard when and if due process eventually completes, under the National Infrastructure regulations?

 

  1. If, as I believe, the SSSI category is subordinate in key respects to European and RAMSAR categories (sites and protected species), full Appropriate Assessment will in any case be required. Mitigation proposals also require proof that alternatives have been considered to the environmental damage proposed. With CPO powers, EdF is fully able to acquire appropriate mitigation sites which avoid the risks and difficulties of Aldhurst Farm. Further, equivalence will involve proportionate scale and characteristsics, according to which Aldhurst Farm will be orders of magnitude too small for the total project land take. I note here that the benchmark Waddenzee case is one of several established sources requiring that a project has integrity in environmental matters and cannot be mitigated by partial and piecemeal solutions.


 

  1. Notwithstanding these requirements, there will be a prior stage in which the methodologies for appropriate assessment will themselves require approval or rejection by the due authorities (Natural England etc and EU agencies). This will in turn involve consideration of the chosen study zones proposed by EdF and given provisional standing in the Scoping Report on its outline Environment Report by the National Planning Inspectorate (SSSI etc 20 kms and non-statutary sites 3 kms). EdF’s approach to environment assessment methodology has already revealed a clear and major deficiency in benchmarking the potential biodiversity value of the SSSI at solely present values, not those accumulated over its lifetime. A cumulative approach – see JNCC Guidelines on SSSI Selection (2013) - may indicate quite different challenges in key respects. The historic impact of the whole nuclear site needs to be balanced against the gains from active management strategy and be judged by independent professionals (see also below). It is open to question whether SCDC has the appropriate capacity to make appropriate assessment to the required standard, and believe there is a structural and potentially legal problem here.


 

  1. EdF and SCDC have already involved appropriate expertise for assessing

biodiversity assessment in various ways which suggest that SCDC planners and councillors will not be in a position to solicit or consider properly independent opinions about the proposal’s environmental value, notwithstanding other legal considerations. EdF’s Community Consultation document records that SCDC, SCC, the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and RSPB have helped develop the proposal. Similar bodies are involved in broader environmental, and area planning and assessment methodology developments, posing the same problem. While modern governance allows for partnerships and, of course, consultation of varying kinds, and plural statutory duties, in planning matters of this kind the regulatory requirement is for independent professional scientific judgements to be decisive. The JNCC document cited above makes this abundantly clear.

 

5 These matters develop issues which I raised during the EdF Community Consultation.

 

ends

 

Scoping Opinion on Sizewell C by the Secretary of State

In order to comply with the pre-application process, EDF are required to produce an Environmental Statement to show that they have investigated and understood all of the aspects that the development of Sizewell C will have on the local habitat and community. Once EDF produced their initial report, Statutory bodies such as the local councils and the environment agency were able to respond and comment on the scope and detail of the environmental statement. The statement and responses were then sent to the secretary of state who assessed them and from the assessment produced an opinion on what topics EDF needs to include, and which areas they need to do more work on. This assessment (SCOPING OPINION Proposed Sizewell C Nuclear Development) was published in June. It is a long report, and the most interesting parts are the appendices of the responses from the statutory bodies. These responses covered broad topics like dealing with the waste and specific issues such as the volume of traffic on the B1122 . EDF are then obliged to take the points made by the secretary of state into consideration when producing an environmental impact assessment which will (hopefully) be a detailed assessment of the impact Sizewell C would have,

The paragraphs below are taken from the secretary of states scoping opinion, a copy of which can be downloaded from here. They highlight some of the issues that are of concern to the statutory bodies.

 

Scoping Opinion Proposed Sizewell C Nuclear Development

SoS = Secretary of State

ES = Environmental Statement

EIA = environmental impact assessment

 

Water Use

3.95 The Scoping Report provides no clear details regarding the source of water for the proposed development, both during construction and operation, and for the variety of sources for which it will be required, such as the campus accommodation, main power station site, for the concrete batching plant etc. The applicant’s attention is drawn to the comments of the Environment Agency in respect of water resources.

Waste Storage and Decommissioning

2.100 The SoS notes that the operational life of the Sizewell C power station is 60 years. The life of the spent fuel storage element of the development would be at least 100 years, beyond the life of the operational power station. The SoS recommends that the EIA considers how the spent fuel storage would be maintained throughout the anticipated 100 years life of the facility.

3.18 The Scoping Report refers to a high-level assessment to be undertaken for the decommissioning of Sizewell C power station; however, it is unclear how and where this information will be presented within the ES. No reference to decommissioning has been made within the individual topic chapters. The SoS recommends that the ES structure include for the high-level assessment of decommissioning.

Temporary Structures:

2.95 The SoS notes that there are various aspects of the proposed development that are described as temporary. The ES should clearly describe the elements of the project that are temporary, including the timescales and methodology for their removal.

3.6 It is not clear from the Scoping Report which elements are temporary during construction, at what stage these will be decommissioned and how these will be considered within the proposed ES. The ES will need to ensure that an assessment of all activities associated with the proposed development is included within the EIA.

3.101 The Scoping Report identifies that the construction period, following site preparation, is envisaged to last between seven and nine years. Section 7.12 of the Scoping Report classifies temporary impacts (long-term) if the effects are experienced over a period of no more than five years. The SoS queries how impacts that may occur beyond five years (in the event that they are identified) would be classified.

3.148 The Scoping Report identifies the rail options as temporary development; however, it is not clear when the rail option would be removed in relation to the development of the power station.

Tourism

3.26 The SoS recommends that the socio-economic ES chapter assess the impacts of the proposed development on potential tourism receptors beyond the consideration of tourist accommodation, for example, visitors to the Heritage Coast.

Data Collection and Field studies

3.53 The Scoping Report provides very little information regarding the methodology and scope of the proposed further collection of field survey data and desk study information. The SoS recommends that the methodology for data collection and sources of desk study information be agreed with Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Coastal, District Council and other relevant consultees.

3.64 The Scoping Report paragraph 7.6.3 refers to new geophysical and geomorphological data of the offshore region and the adjacent coastline; however, no detail has been provided regarding the sources and scope of the data.

3.106 It is unclear from this section whether thermal plumes will be assessed in this ES chapter, in addition to the marine quality and sediment chapter. The SoS recommends that full consideration will need to be given to the potential effects of the cooling water system, including scour, increase temperature, and the introduction of any chemicals, as required. Cross-reference should be made between the assessments undertaken for coastal morphology and hydrodynamics and those within the marine water quality and sediments chapter

3.108 The SoS notes that the inter-relationship between coastal geomorphology and hydrodynamics and the marine historic environment is not discussed within the Scoping Report.

3.115 The Scoping Report Section 7.14 identifies the modelled baseline for the cooling water model is the situation without Sizewell B. The applicant’s attention is drawn to the comments of the Environment Agency in Appendix 2 of this Opinion. The Environment Agency disagrees with this modelled baseline, due to the likely overlap between the two operational power stations.

3.121 The Scoping Report does not contain sufficient information regarding the surveys undertaken to date (including methodology) and the methodology of proposed further studies to ascertain whether these are appropriate and adequate. The ES will need to provide detailed information regarding the surveys including methodology, timing, and detail of the equipment used.

3.134 Section 8 of the Scoping Report does not include timings for the proposed further surveys nor does it specify the proposed methodologies/best practice standards to be followed for the majority of the topic areas.

Flood Risk

3.109 This section should draw on the FRA to include consideration of tidal flood risk and the potential for breaching/overtopping of the proposed flood defences under present and projected sea level scenarios. The potential impacts of flood defences and coastal protection

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From the Environment Agency response:

3.8 Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management

This section refers to storage of spent fuel but makes no reference to other alternatives for dealing with spent fuel (e.g. reprocessing). This is not covered in the section on alternatives. The EIA should include this topic area.

There is no reference in the report to the application of Best Available Technology (BAT) or the waste hierarchy to minimise volumes and activity of radioactive wastes. This needs to be incorporated into the EIA.

7.11 Groundwater and 7.12 Surface Water

Water Resources - There is no clear indication of how water will be sourced - either for construction, or operation.

7.17 Radiological

7.17.4 – It is unclear what the justification is for bounding the radiological impacts of decommissioning to those for routine operational activities. Discharges during operations will be different from those during decommissioning.

7.17.27 – We note that an assessment of discharges will be included in the EIA which we support. A point to consider will is whether discharges will be modelled on a continuous discharge or on a more realistic model (e.g. Pressurised Water Reactor peak discharges during re-fuelling outages).

7.17.58 – It is important that the cumulative impact assessment includes worst case scenarios, such as a refuelling outage at Sizewell B and C at the same time resulting in peak discharges to the environment.

From the Marine Management Organisation response

4.4. References are made throughout the report to baseline studies undertaken, though details of methodologies used and results obtained are only provided in summary. The description of the baseline and survey work is often vague, for example in relation to ornithology and marine ecology. It is therefore difficult to confirm whether all relevant baseline material has been accessed, or whether the surveys undertaken or proposed are adequate.

Section 7.13 – Coastal geomorphology and hydrodynamics

4.15. The Report provides good detail on the approach for the ES and the modelling appears to cover the appropriate scale of change (temporal and spatial). However, there is a lack of transparency in the scoping of issues and no issues have been clearly scoped out. Issues should be clearly scoped in and out of the ES with clear justifications and assessed appropriately to ensure all potential impacts and impact pathways have been identified and assessed appropriately.

 4.16. Specifically, the Report is missing the impact pathways and implications of climate change over the life time of the project such as changing patterns of offshore banks and flood and coastal erosion risk, including the potential for changing beach profiles reducing effectiveness of the beach. Therefore, it is unclear whether all potential impacts and impact pathways have been linked due to the limited project description. More detailed information, specifically on construction and operation, is required to ensure all impacts and impact pathways are identified.

4.17. Consideration needs to be given to modelling extreme events and climate change. Modelling should cover the cooling water discharges, contaminant concentrations, sediment disturbance (e.g. long term dredging) and provide sensitivity analysis to cover inherent variability and uncertainty in calibration and input parameters.

4.28. The types of data being collected are considered to be appropriate however more detail on the survey methods and survey design is required. The descriptions of the methods used to collect the data are very brief and, in the absence of detailed information, it is not possible to determine whether the surveys are appropriate. The approach to the assessment of impacts (including cumulative impacts) is unclear;

4.29. The marine ecology baseline information is brief, often vague and incomplete with no clear references made to whether the statements are based on judgement or 6 Further information is available at

http://www.marinemanagement.org.uk/licensing/how/sample_analysis.htm references. The detail of the surveys is missing and references are not provided in the report and should be clearly documented in the ES where necessary.

4.33. There is little consideration of the impacts on fish and fish populations. The impacts described in section 7.3 of the Report identify long term effects on bird populations but not on the fish themselves which is considered to be a significant omission.

From Suffolk County Council

1.11. Life span of the development/decommissioning

1.11.1. The ES should be clear on the duration of effects for which it is assessing – does the ‘lifetime of the site’ (for example 2.1.9) include the decommissioning phase? How does this also relate to the ISFS and ILW, and their respective design lives (section 3.8)? The design life for the ILW [Intermediate Level Waste] and LLW [Low level waste] stores should also be clarified.

2.18. Radiological

2.18.2. The Scoping Report does not specifically rule out the future use of Mixed Oxide Fuels (MOX) at Sizewell C. The ES should either rule out the use of MOX fuel or comment on the radiological significance and justification for this fuel if it is intended to be used.

2.18.4. Detailed information should be provided as to the integrity of all radioactive material storage and any radioactive waste packaging facility on site. This should include comments on the suitability of storage over the proposed ‘lifetime’ of the site.

2.18.5. Any intended off-site storage of radioactive waste, whether interim or permanent, should be detailed in full, including location and capacity, together with the radiological significance and justification for storing this type of fuel off-site.

2.1.9 We question whether in reality ‘there is sufficient land area within the nominated boundary’ – we believe Sizewell C is only 32ha whereas Hinkley C is 58ha. If EDF need more land this would mean eating into even more AONB land.

Table 5.1 Given that the area occupied by the proposed campus is surely of “high value/sensitivity” why is it still being considered, when alternatives are available? It has often been suggested to EDFE that smaller dispersed sites in centres where the size of population and local infrastructure could better absorb the impact of up to 3000 workers, would be a better way to mitigate the impact of the build. There is no evidence that this suggestion or similar has been seriously researched by EDFE, including the possibility of designing off-site accommodation so that one or more, with a change of use application, could become legacy housing. If it has, the research results should be made available. It is hard to avoid the impression that the campus location is one driven by commercial considerations, with no genuine thought given to the enormous negative impact on the local community. The Scoping Report should cover this question fully.

Response from RWE (Galloper Wind Farm )

Of fundamental concern to GWFL, regarding the Scoping Report, is that although GWF is mentioned on a number of occasions as having potential for cumulative impacts on other receptors it is not acknowledged that the proposed Sizewell C development could itself have an impact on GWF.

Meeting about the Planning Process - January 2014

On Tuesday 21 January 2014, approximately 30 TASC members attended a meeting with Mark Wilson of the Planning Inspectorate (PINS). The intention was to get a clearer idea of how the planning process worked, and how to make our objections to Sizewell C.  Mr Wilson made a presentation outlining the different stages of the planning process for Sizewell C & D, after which there was an opportunity to ask questions.

The meeting was extremely useful as it helped us to understand at least some of the intricacies of the infrastructure planning process. Here is an outline.

Pre-application: This is the phase we are in currently. Mr Wilson emphasised the importance of influencing EDF in its decision-making now. After the application goes in, it is really too late for people to make a difference to it.

Local Authorities: They are statutory consultees and must submit a Local Impact Report. Any concerns we have about EDF’s consultation process should be reported to the Local Authority with a copy to the Planning Inspectorate.

Preliminary works applications: These are reviewed and granted by the Local Authorities. (It was interesting that Mr Wilson said he ‘wished EDF wouldn’t do this’, i.e. deliberately exclude these from the main application. Our Local Authorities have already granted permission for the cutting down of trees, relocation of various species, drilling of bore holes etc. It looks like development consent by stealth.)

The Development Consent Process: Mr. Wilson explained that this may begin some time next year, most likely mid- to late 2015. This of course will be after Stage 2 Consultation which is planned for autumn 2014. The application will go to the Planning Inspectorate, hundreds if not thousands of pages of documents, and there will be just 28 days in which to accept it for examination or not.

Registration: There will be an interval of six weeks only in which people can register their interest. If you do not register at this time, you cannot take part in the hearing.

The Preliminary meeting: This will be held locally. The purpose is to set up a draft timetable, giving deadlines for written representations and hearings. No other issues will be discussed.

The Examination: Only six months are allowed for this and must be strictly adhered to. The written submissions will be examined, and then the Inspectors will decide what further information they need. The Hearings will therefore be driven by the Inspectors’ questions. Replies are limited to 3 minutes per individual, 10 for groups.

A report will be written by the Inspectors along with a recommendation to the Secretary of State. There will be a further three months in which a final decision will be made.

Judicial review: There will be only six weeks in which this could be requested.

Who are the Examiners? These will be Senior Planning Inspectors who may not know anything about nuclear power. For the Hinkley Point C inquiry there were five, including a lawyer, town planner and experts on transport and the environment.

Licences: Various bodies, including the Environment Agency, Marine Management Organization, Office For Nuclear Regulation and Natural England, have to agree the granting of licences, without which the development cannot go ahead. These lie outside the Examination. Any concerns we have with such issues must be taken to these bodies. We are already actively involved in these dialogues, but must do more.

Mr Wilson was a very pleasant chap however, his view of the planning process was at odds with at least some of those in the audience. He described the process at Hinkley as “convivial” and considered the process to be structured, efficient and certain.

During the question and answer session it became clear that a great deal of faith is placed on the consultation done by EDF. The consultation is done in two stages. We have had stage 1 and the responses that were submitted by members of the public have been considered by EDF who supposedly weigh up the comments and address them in the stage 2 consultation. The consultation document that EDF submits to the planning inspectorate as part of the submission is not made public. This means that EDF have full control over what they say about how the consultation is run, what aspects of the project were of concern to people etc. Mr Wilson admitted that at Hinkley this had caused some consternation as members of the public who were unhappy about how the consultation had been run did not trust EDF to be candid in the submission to the planning inspectorate.

Mr Wilson suggested looking at the planning act 2008 which lays out minimum standards for the consultation and at advice note 14 (download here) on compiling the consultation report. This sets out what the consultation has to include. People who participated in the stage 1 consultation were highly critical about the lack of detail supplied by EDF and questioned the amount of flexibility EDF were able to have in the plans Mr Wilson said that there are outlines about how much flexibility a developer is allowed to have in Advice Note Nine (download here) and that the stage 2 consultation should include much more detail.

The question was asked whether in the event of the plans being rejected by the planning inspectorate at the development consent stage it would be open to a legal challenge by EDF or whether compensation would have to be paid to EDF. Mr Wilson said that he did not know as this scenario had never been considered.

Members of the audience said that it was difficult to know where to raise the concerns they have over various aspects of the development. Although members of TASC participated in the consultation, as a process which is fully controlled by EDF, it is not entirely trusted, Mr Wilson suggested lobbying our local authority because as statutory consultees, they submit a local impact report. Other statutory bodies include the Marine Management Organisation and the environment agency.

The Examining Authority have a narrow remit with strict guidelines as to what will and will not be included when considering an application for development consent. The things that will not be included are:

Need

Assessment Alternative sites or energy generation methods

Regulatory Justification

Waste

Demographics

Seismic risk (vibratory ground motion);

ground conditions;

Emergency planning 

This article sets out the steps of the planning process for Sizewell C.

We are currently at "Pre application " during which edf are supposed to disseminate their initial plans, gather opinions about them from local members of the public and then refine the plans in response to the feedback. As part of this process, EDF held a stage 1 consultation in 2013. The responses from Leiston Town Council and from some TASC members and can be found on the left.

The Pre Application requires EDF to prepare an Environmental Statement. This involves providing information about the development to various statutory bodies who can then comment on the proposals. This information is sent to the secretary of state who sets out a scoping opinion in respect of the content of the Environmental Statement. The scoping opinion identifies the topic areas that have to be covered by EDF during the application.

 

The information set out below was copied from a pdf available on the infrastructure planning portal. A copy can be downloaded from here
 

The Planning Inspectorate and nationally significant infrastructure projects

The planning process for dealing with proposals for nationally significant infrastructure projects, or ‘NSIPs’ involves an examination of major proposals relating to energy, transport, water, waste and waste water, and includes opportunities for people to have their say before a decision is made by the relevant Secretary of State. The Planning Inspectorate carries out certain functions related to national infrastructure planning

The application process involves six steps:

Pre-application (THIS IS THE STAGE WE ARE CURRENTLY IN WITH SIZEWELL C)

Acceptance

Pre-examination

Examination

Decision

Post-decision

 

Pre-application
Before submitting an application, the developer is required to carry out extensive consultation on their proposals. This involves providing information about the proposal to various statutory and non statutory bodies and the wider community, responding to questions, listening to suggestions, and taking these into account to influence and inform the application ultimately submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. This does not mean that the developer has to accept or agree with every comment or suggestion made but they must give them proper consideration. The length of time taken to prepare and consult on the project will vary depending upon its scale and complexity. Responding to the developer’s pre-application consultation is the best time to influence a project, whether you agree with it, disagree with it or believe it could be improved. This is also the best time to make any suggestions to the developer about how the impacts of a project could be mitigated.

Acceptance
The acceptance stage begins when a developer submits a formal application for development consent to the Planning Inspectorate. There follows a period of up to 28 days for the relevant Secretary of State to consider whether or not the application meets the standards required to be formally accepted for examination. The Secretary of State’s decision on whether or not to accept an application is based on a number of legal criteria, including whether or not the applicant’s consultation has been adequate, when considered against the statutory tests

Pre-Examination
If an application is formally accepted by the Secretary of State The applicant is required to publicise the fact that their application has been accepted and the arrangements for making representations about it. If you want to ensure that your views about a project are considered by the Examining Authority, you first need to register with the Planning Inspectorate. Representations should relate specifically to the project and its impacts. A representation may not be accepted if the registration form is incomplete or submitted after the deadline. Valid representations received during the registration period are known as ‘relevant representations’. At least 28 days will be provided for people to register. The Examining Authority may disregard representations which are vexatious or frivolous, or deal with the merits of matters of national policy, contained in National Policy Statements (NPSs). NPSs have already been the subject of consultation and parliamentary approval and it is not the role of the examination to debate the merits of national policy People who register by the deadline and make a valid representation to the Planning Inspectorate become ‘interested parties’ in the application. As an interested party, you will be invited to take part in relevant stages of the examination. After the close of the registration period, the Examining Authority has up to 21 days to review the application and all relevant representations and identify the principal issues for examination. Following this, the Planning Inspectorate invites all interested parties to attend a meeting, known as the Preliminary Meeting. This is chaired by the Examining Authority and is held to consider how the application will be examined. The meeting may include questions and answers about the key issues that will need to be examined, the timetable for the examination and other important organisational details. However, the merits or otherwise of the application will not be discussed at the meeting, which is purely procedural. Following the Preliminary Meeting, the Examining Authority will issue a procedural decision including the timetable for the various stages of the examination

Examination
The Examining Authority has a statutory duty to complete its examination within 6 months after the last day of the Preliminary Meeting. The examination is a formal legal process, during which careful consideration is given to all the important and relevant matters, including the representations of all interested parties.

The Secretary of State’s decision.
The Examining Authority must prepare a report on the application to the relevant Secretary of State, including a recommendation, within 3 months of the end of the examination. The Secretary of State then has a further 3 months to make the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.

Post decision
Once a decision has been issued on behalf of the Secretary of State, there is a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.

Subcategories

These are several of the reponses to the Stage 1 Consultation which have been done by various individuals or groups involved in TASC.