In September 2022 the government made a final decision to reject the appeal from EDF to remove the Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) from Hinkley Point C. In 2024, EDF have launched a consultation to determine whether they will appeal once again to remove important environmental protections.

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ruled against EDF’s application and have stated they expect the fish protection measure to be installed as originally proposed.

A public inquiry was held in 2021, where EDF had stated they wished to remove the AFD as it would not adversely affect the local ecosystem. To counter this claim, the inspector heard evidence from a variety of experts, including Fish Guidance Systems and the Environment Agency who stated that there would indeed be an adverse effect. 

The inspector stated that 

The inspector stated that “In view of the considerable uncertainties in the appellant's fish prediction and assessment methods, and of future changes in fish community composition within the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel, a precautionary approach is needed and hewould urge the Inquiry NOT to find in favour of the appellant.” 

This assessment was seconded by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the appeal was rejected.

Dr David Lambert, Managing Director of Fish Guidance Systems stated “The ruling means that there now needs to be a positive outcome, and we are contacting EDF in the coming weeks to see how our expertise can help ensure the DCO is met”.

During the inquiry both Managing Director Dr David Lambert and Dr Andy Turnpenny, provided evidence and the inspector responded as such:

“8.58 At the outset of the Inquiry we were treated to witnessing the criticisms of Dr Turnpenny and Dr Lambert, imputing that they had some personal financial motivation for giving the evidence in the way that they have to this Inquiry. Their evidence was that the AFD system was practicable and effective. This is exactly the same position that both have advanced for many years before this Inquiry. Dr Turnpenny, as the Inquiry has already heard, was part of the team that designed the LVSE – it is not Dr Turnpenny’s and Dr Lambert’s position that had changed.

8.59 Any interested bystander might have half-expected some follow-up questions to deal with Dr Turnpenny and Dr Lambert‘s assertion that the appellant has failed to get in touch with them to consider the latest technological options, with information from other suppliers of such equipment acquired as part of the appellant’s thorough investigation of this issue. There was nothing other than an acceptance by Dr O’Donnell that since 2017 he had spoken to one company and an unnamed person that worked in the sector who told him that there would be difficulties. It doesn’t appear that any serious and diligent attempt has been made to overcome the alleged technical problems.

8.60 The simple fact behind those criticisms of these two Doctors, both of whom are scientists, and many of whose papers are relied on in the appellant’s own case, is that Dr Lambert’s company is one of a number of suppliers of this type of technology. They were not guaranteed to gain from adopting this stance at the Inquiry, a stance that is consistent with their research and writing over many years. If one is to level charges of financial gain, ironically the only party guaranteed to have a financial benefit from not supplying and maintaining the AFD equipment over the 60-year period of operation of HPC is the appellant.

8.61 What is also apparent is that the appellant has chosen not to conduct proper research to support their application. They have then criticised the Agency’s best efforts to work with the paltry offerings, relying on the lack of detail and uncertainty that creates to try and support their own position. The appropriate authority has a legal duty to base the decision on up-to-date information. Where there is insufficient information and uncertainty, a proper application of the tests means that the proposal should be rejected.”

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