EDF Energy has applied to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) for a nuclear site licence to construct and operate Sizewell C – plans for which are currently with the Planning Inspectorate.
The regulator will assess the suitability of the site to host the power station as well as the design of the proposed development.
This includes a robust assessment of how the plant will withstand extreme weather and external hazards – including seismic events and coastal flood hazards.
Government will make the final decision on the project once it has been thoroughly examined by the planning process. Opponents are gearing up for a huge fight over the coming months, claiming the site is the wrong place for the project, which they say is not needed and will have a huge impact on tourism and the environment.
The ONR is responsible for the safe operation of nuclear sites in the UK and a nuclear site licence is one of the key regulatory requirements for building and operating a new power station.
Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, Sizewell C managing director, said: “This is another significant step forward for Sizewell C. The ONR holds the nuclear industry to account on behalf of the public and we welcome the robust scrutiny of our plans.
“We know the regulator will only award a nuclear site licence once it is satisfied that the power station will be safe throughout its entire lifecycle, including decommissioning, site clearance and remediation.”
The Planning Inspectorate’s examination of the plans will be carried out over a 15-18-month period. The nuclear site licence examination is anticipated to take a similar length of time to complete.
The ONR’s work will be informed by its previous examination of the site licence application for Sizewell C’s sister station Hinkley Point C which is under construction in Somerset. The nuclear site licence application for Hinkley Point C was submitted in July 2011 and approved in November 2012.
If Sizewell C is approved, a financial investment decision to build the power station could be taken at the end of 2021/early 2022 with construction getting underway soon afterwards.
EDF says Sizewell C, which would generate enough low carbon power for six million homes, is expected to operate for 60 years and save nine million tonnes of Co2 for every year of operation.
It says there will be 25,000 job opportunities during the 10-year construction period and 900 skilled jobs when the power station is operational.