A consultation period is set to end this week on proposals to allow Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to drop a planning condition to fit acoustic fish deterrents (AFDs) to its water intakes in the Bristol Channel.
Anti-nuclear campaigners claim 11 billion fish could be killed during the power station’s lifetime if AFDs are not used.
Stop Hinkley says EDF, which is building the £27billion power plant, should not be allowed to “wriggle out of conditions imposed when the project was given planning permission.”
The Environment Agency, which has been considering an application from EDF to amend Hinkley’s water discharge activity, says it was proposing to remove the requirement for AFDs.
But before the proposal could be confirmed it is holding a second public consultation which runs until Thursday May 25th, 2023.
A spokesman said: “We propose removing all conditions, or parts of conditions, relating to the acoustic fish deterrent (AFD).”
“We have concluded there would be no adverse effect on the integrity of the relevant European sites in relation to pollution from regulated discharges to waters if there is no AFD in place.”
“This includes those sites functionally linked to the Severn Estuary. We have also concluded that the proposed permit variation will not cause the current status of the water bodies to deteriorate, nor prevent them from achieving their objectives.”
The spokesman said the proposed decision to grant the permit variation for water discharge activity would include limits and conditions to make sure people and the environment were protected from water discharge under normal operation.
He said the agency reached its proposed decision by considering relevant legislation, policy, and guidance alongside responses to its first consultation on the application.
Assessments were also carried out on habitats, sites of special scientific interest, and the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
The existing permit regulated the operational water discharge activities from Hinkley C.
They included discharges of non-radioactive liquid effluents such as returned cooling water from turbine condensers, trade process effluents from various plant systems, including those which maintained water purity and chemistry to keep the best operating conditions and maximise efficiency, and treated sewage effluent from staff welfare facilities.
The draft varied permit would also now regulate returned seawater through a fish recovery and return system.
As a result of an assessment on the impact of the fish recovery and return system discharge, the agency also proposed limits on volume, rate, and total biomass discharged from the fish recovery and return system outlet.
The draft varied permit includes a requirement to use an additional operating technique and an improvement condition.
It also includes two pre-operational conditions which need Environment Agency approval before the proposed power station can be commissioned or begin to operate.
The spokesman added: “This is to make sure that NNB Generation Company (Hinkley Point C) Ltd builds and operates the proposed power station according to the commitments made in its permit application.”
The agency plans to publish its final decision in the summer of this year.
Comments can be submitted by visiting the agency’s e-consultation website at https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/psc/ta5-1ud-hinkley-point-c-v005-proposed-decision,
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Hinkley C consultation, Permit Support Centre – Water Quality Team, Quadrant 2, 99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield, S9 4WF.
More advice on how to take part in the consultation can be obtained by calling 03708 506 506. Any correspondence should quote the application number EPR/HP3228XT/V005.