Horizon is planning to develop a new nuclear power station on Anglesey.
The site is on land beside the former Magnox Wylfa Power Station, which is now being decommissioned.
Horizon aims to start generating electricity at Wylfa Newydd in the mid 2020s – with a minimum generating capacity of 2700 MW - enough to power around five million homes.
But before any of this can happen, there are several steps to be taken in terms of planning consent and environmental permitting.
And this is where NRW, among others, has a role to play.
Our purpose is to ensure that the natural resources of Wales are sustainably maintained, enhanced and used.
At Wylfa Newydd we will do this in three ways:
- Assessing the design of the reactors
- Environmental Permitting
- Providing expert advice to other organisations on decisions they need to make
We are aware of the high level of public interest in Wylfa Newydd and commit to being transparent at every step of the way, providing opportunities for you to have your say and contribute to the process.
Assessing the design of the reactors – Generic Design Assessment (GDA)
The design of the reactor proposed by Horizon – the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, or ABWR – will need to pass the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process.
A detailed four-year-long programme, this partnership between NRW, the Environment Agency and the Office of Nuclear Regulation investigates and assesses the safety, security, environmental protection and waste management aspects of reactor designs.
At the end of the process the regulators will jointly decide whether to approve the design for use in the UK or to refuse it.
Before the developer can build and operate a nuclear power station at Wylfa Newydd, it needs several environmental permits from us.
Their purpose is to make sure that work to build and then operate the plant creates minimal damage to the environment.
If we believe that Horizon could do more to protect the environment, or hasn’t provided us with enough information on how it plans to do so, we will refuse to issue permits.
We have already granted some permits to protect the environment for work that’s already been done, for example to allow limited tree felling, to use herbicide in a controlled manner, and to conduct ground investigations at sea.
We are expecting Horizon to provide us with detailed applications for six main permits. We will consult publicly on them all. They are:
- Construction Water Discharge - to control and minimise the impact from site drainage and contaminated water during the main construction period. For example, this could include discharges from a concrete batching plant and sewage system
- Marine licencing – this is required for any work that involves building, removing and disposing of materials below the high water mark. This includes features such as breakwaters, a facility to off-load cargo from ships (MOLF – marine off-loading facility) or marine dredging
- Abstraction – during construction, Horizon will need to reduce groundwater levels by pumping water from the ground. As a result, they may need to submit an abstraction license application to demonstrate how they will deal with this without damaging the local environment or nearby streams
- Radioactive Substances – to demonstrate how Horizon will protect people and the environment by minimising the amount of radioactive waste it generates and discharges
- Cooling water discharge – to minimise the environmental effect of abstracting sea water to cool the plant’s systems and of discharging it (warmer and with some chemicals) back into the sea
- Combustion installation – to make sure that emergency back-up generators and boilers have measures to protect the local environment
Our role also involves providing expert advice to other organisations on decisions they need to make.
Planning permission for the new power station will be decided by the Secretary of State, while permissions for many of the smaller developments such as new roads, accommodation sites and logistics centres are decided by Anglesey County Council.
We will provide specialist advice to these organisations on how to protect and improve the environment on several aspects.
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