Parliament's vote for more nuclear power is a major milestone for EDF Energy's new build project
Parliament’s vote for more nuclear power is major milestone for EDF Energy’s new build project
National Policy Statements confirm "It is Government policy that new nuclear power should be able to contribute as much as possible to the UK’s need for new capacity."
Parliamentary vote follows decision to reform UK electricity market in favour of low carbon generation
The UK Parliament’s ratification of the National Policy Statements for Energy is the second major milestone on the road to new nuclear power in a week.
Members of Parliament voted clearly in favour to formally ratify the National Policy Statement for Nuclear, alongside the other energy statements.
The statements also confirm the sites where stations could be built. The list includes both of EDF Energy’s preferred sites, at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk.
The vote reflects the broad political and public support for nuclear power in the UK. This support has been maintained since the events at Fukushima in Japan, reflecting the robust safety standards that already existed and the UK’s commitment to implement lessons from Fukushima.
The Chief Nuclear Inspector’s interim report into implications of Fukushima found that the UK nuclear industry had reacted "responsibly and appropriately", "displaying a leadership for safety and a strong safety culture". It concluded there was no reason for curtailing the operation of existing plants, nor to change the current siting strategy for new nuclear.
The vote follows publication of the White Paper on Electricity Market Reform on July 12, which outlined four measures the UK Government would put in place to incentivise investment in low carbon electricity generation, including nuclear.
EDF Group Chairman and Chief Executive Henri Proglio said:
"The UK Parliament’s vote in favour of nuclear is an essential step for EDF Group and its new nuclear projects.
"Alongside its partner Centrica, EDF is therefore in a position to move forward its project to build new nuclear power stations, which will contribute to making the Group a reference point for electricity in tomorrow’s world and a leader in de-carbonised energy."
EDF Energy Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz said:
"Parliament’s vote for nuclear reflects the significant momentum and broad support among politicians, customers, industry and public.
"The decision is particularly welcome coming less than one week after the Government delivered the market reforms to encourage investment in low carbon generation.
"The reforms will transform the market and ensure customers will benefit from stability, security, affordability and predictability. They provide investors with the right incentives.
"All of this has been made possible because of the robust safety standards that already exist in the UK nuclear industry and the commitment to implement lessons from Fukushima so that UK nuclear will be stronger, safer and able to continue to play its vital role providing secure, affordable, low carbon energy."
As well as the important political dimensions of last night’s vote, the National Policy Statements have an important legal role in the consenting processes for new nuclear, both nationally and locally.
The statements provide the bodies involved with a clear legal and political basis to develop nuclear as part of the transition to a low carbon energy system.
EDF Energy’s new nuclear project is making strong progress, including working with the community on the consent process, completing the reactor licensing, working with the supply chain on the business opportunities and liaising with schools and universities on the jobs it will create.
Last week the safety and environmental regulators completed their initial assessment of the EPR reactor design. They said the EPR is capable of being acceptable in the UK and that they were confident credible plans to resolve the final outstanding issues could be delivered.
Speaking for the Government in last night’s debate in the House of Commons, Energy Minister Charles Hendry MP said:
"The overarching national policy statement sets out the need for each of the different energy infrastructure technologies. It makes clear that we need a diverse mix to provide affordable, clean energy…. It sets out the part that renewables and new nuclear power stations will play in meeting our emissions reductions targets."
Responding for the Opposition, Labour Shadow Energy Minister Huw Irranca Davies MP said:
"We agree firmly with the conclusion reached (in the National Policy Statements). Nuclear, as a low carbon proven technology, could play a key role in diversifying and decarbonising our energy and in meeting our climate change objectives. It is a proven low carbon technology that can be deployed on a large scale."
National Policy Statements were established by the Planning Act 2008 as part of Government reforms to streamline the planning process for major infrastructure projects.
There are six NPSs relating to energy policy. The final NPS documents were laid before Parliament on 23 June 2011. Following ratification by Parliament, the NPSs will be formally designated as such by the Secretary of State for energy and Climate Change.
The NPSs set out, among other things, that:
" For the UK to meet its energy and climate change objectives, the Government believes that there is an urgent need for new electricity generation plant, including new nuclear power. Nuclear power generation is a low carbon, proven technology, which is anticipated to play an increasingly important role as we move to diversify and decarbonise our sources of electricity.
It is Government policy that new nuclear power should be able to contribute as much as possible to the UK’s need for new capacity. Although it is not possible to predict whether or not there will be a reactor or more than one reactor at each of the eight sites included in EN-6, a single reactor at each of the eight sites would result in 10-14 GW of nuclear capacity, depending on the reactor technology chosen."
The NPS relating to nuclear also sets out how the Infrastructure Planning Commission should deal with applications to build new nuclear power stations and states that this should be done on the basis that the need for nuclear has already been demonstrated.
It also lists sites deemed suitable for the next generation of nuclear power stations.
The suite of National Policy Statements includes an overarching statement on energy and individual statements on nuclear power generation, renewables energy infrastructure, fossil fuel electricity generating infrastructure, electricity network infrastructure and gas supply infrastructure and gas and oil pipelines.
Please see further details at: http://press.edf.com/press-releases/all-press-releases/2011/-85298.html