Hinkley Point C and the Acoustic Fish Deterrent

Hinkley Point C is the first of a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK. The plant is due to open in June 2027 and will cost in excess of £25bn. 

It will account for 7% of the country’s electricity supply, providing power to around six million homes and offsetting nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

All power plants require extensive cooling facilities and Hinkley Point C will cool its turbines by drawing water from the Severn Estuary, the UK’s largest estuary and designated special area of conservation.

Plans for that cooling system include the installation of an acoustic fish deterrent (AFD), which will guide fish away from the plant’s water intakes to protect them from harm. 

Working In Collaboration

In September 2022, an appeal to remove the AFD from the plant by EDF was rejected by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This is the last recourse for EDF with the exception of a judicial review.

In their report, which can be found here, they stated: 

“The Secretary of State considers that the migratory species have been declining, are considered in a poor state and that even low-level impacts on a population at risk can be significant. He also considers that the marine stocks are in a poor or vulnerable state and that impacts of the scale indicated by the… [removal of the AFD] would have a potential material effect on these stocks.”

Hinkley Point C Fish Deterrent System

What can an Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) achieve?

As the AFD forms part of the Development Consent Order for the site and the Government and a Public Enquiry have both stated that it will play an essential role in protecting marine life and must be installed. Without it, environmental organisations believe as many as 500,000 fish could be sucked into the intake each day.

An effective screening system comprises of a fish return system with an AFD as it accounts for a wide range of factors, including:

  • Differences in hearing sensitivities of the fish that are at risk
  • Differences in handling sensitivities of the fish drawn into the intake
  • The ability to operate and monitor the system remotely
  • The potential for fish stocks to change over the lifespan of the plant
  • A safe maintenance process that protects divers and other operatives
Now that the decision on the installation of the AFD has now been settled Fish Guidance Systems provides the statements given at the public enquiry of June 8th 2022, Dr David Lambert, Managing Director of Fish Guidance Systems and Dr Andy Turnpenny, fish biologist gave a presentation on the requirements of an AFD to be included in the DCO for the proposed nuclear plant. To view their full statements, please follow the link below.

Hinkley Point C and the Severn Estuary ​

FGS has been developing sound-based behavioural fish protection systems for more than 25 years.

These are backed by scientific research and multiple trials to assess effectiveness and environmental impact. The type proposed for Hinkley Point C uses a Sound Projector Array, a system of underwater speakers which produce a repellent sound gradient to block intakes.

Species such as Atlantic salmon and twaite shad, which are abundant in the Severn Estuary and of high conservation importance, have responded particularly well to existing AFDs.


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