An application to remove the requirement for an acoustic fish deterrent (AFD) at Hinkley Point C has been considered rejected by the Environment Agency.
The environmental permit for the site, issued in 2013, specified several measures intended to mitigate the effects of the plant’s cooling facilities. These included the use of AFD to guide fish away from water intakes.
In February 2019, developers submitted an application to vary this permit, specifically to remove the requirement for AFD.
And although the organisation had not concluded its assessments, the application was deemed to have been refused when these were not completed by August 2020.
Protecting the environment
Decision makers such as the Environment Agency are required, under the Habitats Regulations, to assess the impact of their decisions on designated species and ecosystems.
In the case of Hinkley Point C, AFD was considered necessary for the protection of marine wildlife in the Severn Estuary. A fish recovery and return system is also required, along with a low velocity side entry intake that will discourage fish from entering the pipes.
“While we had not made a final decision on the application to remove the AFD, our provisional conclusion was that its removal, without additional mitigation measures, is unlikely to meet the requirements of the Habitats Regulations,” the Environment Agency stated.
What happens next?
Although the agency has confirmed its provisional view that AFD is necessary, developers have lodged an appeal relating to the timing of that decision, which will be heard by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS).
A PINS inspector will now oversee a public inquiry, with the organisation taking over from the Environment Agency and acting on behalf of the Secretary of State. Restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic mean it is unclear what form the inquiry will take, but PINS will accept representations in writing until October 27th 2020.
If the inspector ultimately upholds the appeal they will confirm which conditions should be included in a new Environment Agency permit. The inspector’s decision will be final and the station is expected to remain on track for completion in 2023.
Should you wish to make any representations on this appeal, you should do so by writing directly to the Planning Inspectorate at the address below before close of play on 27 October 2020.
Environment Appeals Administration
The Planning Inspectorate
3A Eagle Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Tel: 0303 444 5000
Email: [email protected]