April has been a huge month for the fight to ensure proper environmental protections are put in place at the UK’s next generation of nuclear power plants. 

Several national newspapers, including in The Guardian and The Independent, have highlighted the serious issues facing the cooling water intakes of nuclear plants – and the devastating effect that not installing acoustic fish deterrents at their entrances would cause.

Why are Acoustic Fish Deterrents Required at Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C

Both Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C use cooling systems that require the drawing of large volumes of water into the plant through underwater tunnels. 

A knock-on effect of this drawing of water is the damage done to the protected fish that are dragged along with the water. Herring and sprat, under current plans, would be pulled through the fish return system, damaging them fatally. In addition to the environmental cost, The clogging of these intakes with fish also has an economic cost, as recently highlighted by the news that a French nuclear plant was forced to shut down completely due to ‘fish impingement.’

The best practice way to reduce the impact of the fish return system is to install an acoustic fish deterrent (AFD) at the mouth of the cooling water intake. This has already been mandated at Hinkley Point C, although this is under appeal. At Sizewell C there is currently no plan to install an AFD despite growing calls from experts and locals.

An AFD is an innovative technology system that uses a combination of sound, bubbles and light to deter the fish, and has been proven highly effective in both laboratory settings, and at other sites such as Doel Nuclear Plant in Belgium.

Working with Government and Non-Government Alike

Fish Guidance Systems have worked with the advisory committee to The Welsh Government, alongside a wide range of non-governmental organisations, to highlight the unseen impact of not including acoustic fish deterrents (AFD) at the planned Sizewell C and the under-construction Hinkley Point C.

At Hinkley Point C, an acoustic fish deterrent is currently required by a governmental development consent order (DCO), and at Sizewell C, where Fish Guidance Systems and others believe that an AFD is required to prevent impingement of the cooling systems, the planning process is still under consideration.

David Lambert, Managing Director of Fish Guidance Systems has stated “We have spent over 25 years working on acoustic fish deterrents (AFD) and we know that AFDs can reduce sprat entrainment by 87.9%, and herring entrainment by 94.7%, which aids in the prevention of fish inundation at nuclear power plants.”

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