Memorandum submitted by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust (NPS 59)

 

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is the only voluntary organisation devoted solely to the conservation of the wildlife and wildplaces of Cumbria. The Trust stands up for wildlife, creates wildlife havens, and seeks to raise environmental awareness.

 

Formed in 1962 and supported by over 15,000 members, the Trust cares for over 40 nature reserves, campaigns for the protection of endangered habitats and species such as limestone pavements and red squirrels, and works with adults and children to discover the importance of the natural world.

 

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is part of a partnership of 47 local Wildlife Trusts across the UK. With 670,000 members and 2,200 nature reserves, we are the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to conserving the full range of the UK's habitats and species.

 

Summary

Cumbria Wildlife Trust considers that the way Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest (IROPI) has been applied in this document does not stand up to scrutiny in relation to the Habitats Directive because:

o There are alternative ways to meet energy need to those proposed in the energy National Policy Statements

o In relation to need, there is little ambition in the energy efficiency and community energy generation targets in EN-1[1]

o Some of the ten nuclear sites proposed in EN-6 are capable of siting more than one reactor (and indeed, the government's own target could not be met if this wasn't the case), therefore it is not necessary to propose the most environmentally damaging of the currently proposed sites

o Site selection for nuclear sites in EN-6 appears to have been carried out purely on commercial terms, with no meaningful or rigorous consideration of the environmental effects

o Regardless of IROPI, the Habitats Directive indicates that if damage to Natura 2000 sites cannot be compensated for, the particular site should not be allocated as indicated in EN-1 paragraph 1.1.2

o The compensation required by the Habitats Directive for the most damaging nuclear sites would need to be on such a large scale as to warrant consideration at the earliest stage, and it may not ultimately be possible to compensate for loss of internationally protected habitats

 

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is very concerned that the inclusion of a site within the nuclear NPS is a presumption in favour of development that would be used to outweigh all other considerations when an application is made to the Infrastructure Planning Commission

 

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is concerned about the lack of consultation with local communities (among which we include ourselves as we represent members in the communities affected by the proposed nuclear development) which the Credible Nuclear Power Operators are required to engage in[2]. This has not taken place, and Cumbria Wildlife Trust has not been consulted by the proposers of any of the Cumbrian sites

 

In particular Cumbria Wildlife Trust has grave concerns regarding the allocation of the proposed site and associated infrastructure for a nuclear power station at Kirksanton in Cumbria due to the following:

o Loss of or damage to internationally protected habitats and species

o Loss of or damage to nationally protected habitats and species

o Loss of a County Wildlife Site

o Loss of UK Biodiversity Action Plan habitats and species

o Damage to marine life through direct and cumulative impact

o Coastal and inland flooding risks leading to ecologically damaging flood defence infrastructure and site raising

 


Imperative reasons of Overriding Public Interest (IRPOI) and the application of the Habitats Directive

1. The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (Habitats Regulations) make it clear that no damage to internationally protected sites will be countenanced unless there are Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Importance (IROPI) as described in Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC[3]. However, even in the case of IROPI, the Habitats Directive indicates that any damage or loss of part of an internationally protected site must be compensated by creation in the same country of new habitat of the same type, quality and extent as that lost to ensure the integrity of the Natura 2000 suite of sites, and if this is not possible, then the development cannot proceed as indicated in EN-1 para 1.1.2.

 

2. The government's targets for energy efficiency and small scale renewables/community power generation as presented in EN-1 are unambitious[4] and represent a seemingly low aspiration for decarbonising the economy. It is also disquieting that the government is prepared to encourage the UK population to make certain lifestyle changes in relation to health for example; yet will not consider encouraging other lifestyle and property changes to decrease demand for energy. In a world of declining resources, it would be sensible to start encouraging lifestyle changes rather than pretending that it will be business as usual in the long term.

 

3. In EN-6[5] the DECC make it clear that they consider that the case for nuclear power stations falls under IROPI. However, Cumbria Wildlife Trust considers that the government's argument for a blanket application of IRPOI for all nuclear power station sites is flawed on the basis that there are alternative courses of action to building nuclear power stations at all ten sites allocated in EN-6. Additionally, no evidence is presented that only these ten sites are appropriate or that these ten are the most appropriate. If EN-1 is followed, Government should have specified in the NPS the criteria appropriate to new build nuclear and left the industry to bring their proposals forward to the IPC, accompanied by Environmental Statements as appropriate. By inserting their chosen sites in EN-6, the government is taking upon itself judgments which should fall to industry and/or the IPC under the Act. There may be a case for judicial review of whether government has acted ultra vires.

 

4. If the nuclear sites are considered on the basis of one power plant at each site, EN-6 indicates that this would generate a maximum of 18 GW, falling some way short of the stated target of 25GW. It follows that it is feasible for some sites to have two or more plants, therefore the argument that all ten sites should be made available to meet the 25GW target is nonsensical. If more than one power plant can be built at each sites, not all ten sites are needed, so the most environmentally damaging ones should be removed. Cumbria Wildlife Trust believes those sites that have a significant risk of having an irrecoverable impact on Natura 2000 sites should be removed from the final policy statement.

 

5. The allocation of sites in the nuclear NPS raises uncertainty about the potential damage to biodiversity by nuclear development. A blanket application of IROPI by the Government for development of nuclear power plants without a close look at the implications of such an application has the potential to threaten the integrity of the Natura 2000 network and could be an invalid interpretation of the Habitats Directive.

 

6. A cumulative assessment of impact has not been carried out properly in the NPS. Whilst there is a cumulative impact assessment in the Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) for each site, there is no overall cumulative impact assessment looking at the impact of five nuclear power sites on the west-central Irish Sea coast.

 

7. The Dungeness site was taken out of the initial round of consultation under discretionary criterion D6 (Internationally designated sites of ecological importance) on the basis of impact on nearby Natura 2000 sites[6]. Why was the site at Kirksanton, which is as sensitive as Dungeness, not taken out of the NPS for the same reasons? Similar irrevocable damage to Natura 2000 sites would be caused by development of a nuclear power station and associated infrastructure at Kirksanton as at Dungeness.

 

8. Sites have been allocated in a facile manner apparently on a purely commercial basis. This is illustrated in the alternative sites consideration document[7], in particular by the site summaries for Druridge Bay, Kingsnorth and Owston Ferry where it becomes apparent that the only reason for a site's selection is that a developer put it forward. This is a poor standard for the assessment of whether a site is a viable alternative for inclusion in the NPS or not and it is not credible that this criteria would be acceptable in a local planning document, let alone in a National Policy Statement. For example, the Druridge Bay site summary[8] states:

 

Having given Druridge Bay further consideration the Government has come to the view that it is reasonable to conclude that Druridge Bay is not credible for deployment by the end of 2025. The preliminary conclusion reached by Government is therefore that Druridge Bay is not potentially suitable and should not be included in the Nuclear NPS.

 

In coming to this view the Government has considered the problems inherent with deploying a site which has not previously hosted nuclear facilities, potential difficulties implementing transmission and distribution infrastructure at the site, and the difficulties (and potential delay) that the high amenity value and land ownership of the site are likely to pose for planning and licensing. In addition, the Government also notes the decision by energy companies not to nominate the site. The decision that Druridge Bay is not potentially suitable has been reached due to all these factors. Whilst some may be capable of mitigation, when considered in combination they considerably impair the credibility of deployment of the site by the end of 2025.

 

9. It appears that the principal difference between the non-inclusion of Druridge Bay and the inclusion of Kirksanton within the NPS is that a potential developer actually owns the land at Kirksanton. Kirksanton suffers from all of the difficulties listed above (a site which has not previously hosted nuclear facilities, potential difficulties implementing transmission and distribution infrastructure at the site, and the difficulties (and potential delay) that the high amenity value...are likely to pose for the site) as well as having a high level of environmental sensitivity. Despite Kirksanton being on the west coast of Cumbria, it is not the type of deindustrialised land that the Energy Coast initiative is targeting. It is in fact a rural, isolated area, of high landscape, tourist and biodiversity value, remote from the old industrial areas further north, from which it is separated by the Lake District National Park.

 

10. It can only be concluded that the operators have decided where these new nuclear power plants should be sited, without satisfactory consideration of environmental factors and the government taken these sites forward in the NPS. This is not an adequate or sensible way to allocate sites for such nationally important infrastructure and does not appear to meet the requirements of the Habitats Directive that alternative, less damaging sites should be considered.

 

11. Within the terms of the Habitats Directive, developments considered by the government as having IROPI still need to comply with the Habitats Directive and thus provide compensation over and above damage that will be caused to Natura 2000 sites. It is inconceivable that the damage that would be caused to some of the Natura 2000 sites can be compensated for in a way which meaningfully ensures that the integrity of the Natura 2000 network of sites is maintained. These sites should be removed from the NPS at this stage.

 

Inclusion of Sites within the Nuclear NPS

12. Cumbria Wildlife Trust is concerned that the inclusion of a site within the NPS is a presumption in favour of development that would be used to outweigh all other considerations when an application is made to the Infrastructure Planning Commission even where this would give rise to conflict with European Directives transposed into UK law. DECC's statement in EN-6 indicating that all ten sites would be needed and that there are no alternatives appears to support this point of view. Paragraph A15 of Annex A in EN-6 states "The government does not consider it appropriate to include more than ten sites in this NPS at this stage when the need is balanced against the potential harm to Natura 2000 sites and other factors like planning blight" appears perverse when Natura 2000 sites will be harmed if a number of the currently selected sites are developed. Why weren't more sites chosen to allow alternative sites to be developed if the damage to Natura 2000 sites is found to be of concern when they come to be put forward to the IPC?

 

Lack of consultation by operators

13. Cumbria Wildlife Trust is concerned about the lack of consultation with local communities (among which we include ourselves as we represent members in the communities affected by the proposed nuclear development) which the Credible Nuclear Power Operators are required to engage in[9]. This has not taken place, and Cumbria Wildlife Trust has not been consulted by the proposers of any of the Cumbrian sites. It is also apparent that the Operators for Cumbrian sites have failed to consult many local residents and interest groups in the areas where the proposed power stations are to be sited.

 

Cumulative impact

14. The three sites proposed in Cumbria are in addition to Heysham in north Lancashire and Wylfa in North Wales. There has been no assessment of the cumulative impact that these five power stations will have on the biodiversity of the Irish Sea. This raises issues regarding the designation of Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea under the Marine Act 2009. Cumulative impact is an issue that needs to be addressed and it is a glaring omission from DECCs consultation documents. Surely the purpose of an NPS is to bring together strategic and generic arguments that establish overall policy. Cumulative impact or optimal spacing is without doubt just such a strategic issue. This is not just a matter of biodiversity, security issues are also involved. EN-6 should have taken up this issue.

 

Site Specific Concerns

Kirksanton

15. The proposed RWE NPower site for the Kirksanton nuclear power station lies at the mouth of the Duddon Estuary. This part of Cumbria is physically isolated from much of the rest of the county by topography, including mountains, bays and estuaries. The road system comprises narrow, single carriageway roads, and apart from the small town of Millom, there is not a great deal of heavy industry or large scale settlement along this part of the Cumbrian Coast. The Kirksanton site comprises low lying land, at risk of flooding from both freshwater[10] and coastal sources.

 

16. This isolation and low levels of existing development are precisely the reasons why the area around Kirksanton is of such great significance for its natural environment including habitats, species and landscapes of international value. In many respects it is one of a few places that is unspoiled for biodiversity.

 

17. The development of a nuclear power station at this location will necessitate a complex and sizable infrastructure to facilitate the building and operation of a nuclear complex. The consultation documents indicate that this is likely to include a marine loading facility, new road infrastructure possibly including a bridge across the Duddon Estuary, grid connections and pipelines for the abstraction and discharge of sea water required for cooling.

 

18. The nuclear power station and associated infrastructure will have a highly detrimental effect on the internationally designated sites, habitats and species of the Duddon Estuary and the surrounding natural environment. It is very unlikely that any developer, even with unlimited resources could compensate for the loss of these internationally important habitats, as it is inconceivable that a new estuary site could be found to replace the loss of the Duddon Estuary habitats, so ensuring the integrity of the Natura 2000 suite of Sites of Community Importance as designated and protected by the European Habitats Directive 1992 as enacted into UK law as the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (Habitats Regulations). This application therefore does not meet discretionary criterion D6 "Internationally designated sites of ecological importance" and should have been omitted.

 

Designations

19. The coastline directly adjacent to the proposed Kirksanton site is designated as the Morecambe Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC)[11], and the Duddon Estuary Special Protection Area (SPA)[12] and Ramsar[13] wetland site. These designations mean that the sites are of international significance for their habitats and species and are protected by the European Habitats Directive. These sites form part of the suite of Natura 2000 sites found across Europe. It is not clear that loss of or damage to large areas of the Duddon Estuary SPA/Ramsar and part of the Morecambe Bay SAC which would be caused by development at Kirksanton can be compensated for elsewhere, and if this cannot be done, the Habitats Directive cannot be complied with.

 

Sources of damage to Natura 2000 sites

20. As an example of potential sources of damage, Paragraph 5.17 of the Appraisal of Sustainability (AoS) for Kirksanton[14] states "Locating the marine loading facility (if required) within the Duddon Estuary will require extensive dredging prior to construction and during operation to meet the required depths necessary to facilitate marine vessels. Dredging a channel will not only destroy habitats but will seriously degrade the amount of natural sediment available to sustain the estuarine morphodynamics and coastline to the south of the Duddon Estuary. Structures will directly interfere with the sediment transport pathways within the estuarine system, causing loss of habitat and interference to the protected species of birds and plants indigenous to the Duddon Estuary". This paragraph of the AoS anticipates the damage that will take place if the natural processes of the estuary are affected by infrastructure. It shows that much of the SPA/Ramsar site would be damaged or adversely affected. Other infrastructure having a similar effect would be a road bridge or tidal barrage[15] across the Duddon Estuary, which although not mentioned in the AoS have been discussed as essential for the implementation of this site. In particular, the coastal dune habitats, mudflats, reefs, shingle banks and estuary habitats which make this area so rich in biological diversity would be damaged or lost.

 

21. Despite paragraph 5.20 of the Kirksanton AoS asserting that "There is, however, potential for mitigation or compensation of biodiversity effects, including the creation of replacement habitat for UK designated sites", there is no explanation of how this would be done. Furthermore, there is no mention of creation of replacement habitat for loss of the internationally designated sites. It is, in fact inconceivable that the extent of loss of habitat within the Duddon could be compensated for elsewhere as all sites of similar calibre to the Duddon have already been designated, and it would be impossible to create an estuary from scratch with the same habitats that would be lost as a consequence of the development.

 

 

Marine impacts

22. The reports for Kirksanton give no indication of the amount of sea water that will be needed for cooling the reactor(s) at the site or how much would be discharged or at what temperature. However, the stated preferred option is for sea water cooling, and indeed, there is unlikely to be a source of fresh water which could be used for cooling the reactor. There is no information available regarding abstraction/discharge at the Kirksanton site. However, a report commissioned by British Energy (2008)[16] estimated that the new generation reactors would need 72000 litres per second of cooling water. By way of comparison this is slightly more than the average flow of the River Thames at Teddington Lock[17].

 

23. There is no reassurance that cooling water intake and outflow at such large volume and the raised temperatures near the site of release will not affect the behaviour and distribution of marine species including Key UK Priority Habitats such as blue mussel beds, Sabelleria reefs, tideswept channels and mud and sand flats. It is likely that chlorine would be used as a biocide to prevent marine life sticking to inlet and outflow pipes. The bleaching effects on marine life of chlorination will depend on volumes, rate of decay and complex chemical reactions. The chlorination process would be likely to cause harm to the ecosystem of the Duddon Estuary SPA/Ramsar and Morecambe Bay SAC. This is an area where information is lacking in the Habitats Regulations Assessment document for Kirksanton[18] and research is required into possible impacts from an operating power station in future. It is likely however, that if the chlorinated water discharged into the marine environment has a detrimental effect on the organisms at the bottom of the food chain, species higher up the food chain which depend on these marine species would suffer. There is no information provided in the NPS documentation to indicate that there would not be an adverse effect on marine life and if there was, damage to marine environments in the Irish Sea would be practically impossible to compensate for because it is not feasible to recreate many marine habitats.

 

24. Water abstraction for cooling purposes is likely to have an impact on marine species which would result in possibly significant numbers of larvae, eggs and small fry being removed from the marine environment into the cooling system.

 

25. The discharge of large volumes of warm water in to the Duddon Estuary would inevitably have ecological effects, possibly including the creation of conditions favourable to invasive species not native to the Cumbrian coast. Of grave concern is that the Habitats Regulations Assessment for the (now omitted) site at Dungeness assessed the impact of changes in water temperature on the marine environment. This has either not been done for the Kirksanton site, or has been left out.

 

26. Many of the species dependant on marine sources of food are designated as interest features of the Natura 2000 sites, for example birds such as Sandwich Tern, Northern Pintail, Red Knot and Common Redshank and these species come under the same European legislation protection as the habitats themselves.

 

Impacts on species protected under the Habitats Directive

27. The interest features of these internationally protected sites include mobile species which move off the sites and onto the land which is proposed for the development of the nuclear power station. One of the species most at risk is the natterjack toad for which the Duddon Estuary is the most important site in the UK, supporting between 18-24% of the British population[19] which is over 50% of the population in Cumbria. Development along the coast, including erection of sea defences, land raising, marine facilities and road and bridge infrastructure would damage and fragment much of the natterjack toad habitat leading to a sharp decline in the population. The natterjack toads are cited as one of the reasons for the designation of the Ramsar site and so are protected as part of this Natura 2000 site.

 

28. Along with the natterjack toads, the bird assemblages for which the Natura 2000 sites are designated will suffer from ongoing disturbance during both the construction and operational stages of the nuclear facility and associated infrastructure. It is unlikely that mitigation measures can be put in place to protect these species from the disturbance by construction and operation of the site.

 

Impacts on Nationally Protected Sites and Species, Local Sites and Priority Habitats and Species

29. The Duddon Estuary SSSI shares boundaries with the SPA and Ramsar. In addition to the importance of the site for its bird and natterjack toad populations, the site is of importance for its geomorphological interest. Any disturbance to the sediment regime of the estuary by power station infrastructure will lead to damage to the geomorphological interest of the SSSI which includes extensive sand dunes. This will have further detrimental effects on habitats in the area.

 

30. The site boundary at Kirksanton includes the Kirksanton Moss County Wildlife Site. This Wildlife Site of county importance would be lost due to direct land take, land raising and changes to drainage.

 

31. Much of the habitat just inland of the coastal strip is Priority Habitat as selected under Section 41 of the NERC 2006 Act[20] which imposes a duty on all public bodies to conserve, restore and enhance biodiversity. These habitats have been chosen by the UK government as being of Priority importance[21]. The proposed site of the Kirksanton power station will directly affect two of these habitats, Coastal and Floodplain Grazing Marsh and Coastal Habitats Above High Water. The implementation of the development and associated infrastructure would damage these habitats and prevent them from performing their function which is to allow corridors for movement of plant and animal species.

 

32. There are a number of additional protected or priority species which use the sites including:

European protected species: bats (4 species), great crested newts, otters

Wildlife and Countryside Act species: common lizard, adder, slow worm and many species of nesting bird.

 

Braystones

Internationally designated sites and species

33. Abstraction and discharge from a facility at Braystones could have a negative impact on the interest feature species associated with a number of internationally protected sites along the coast of Cumbria. This is due to changes in water temperature and use of biocides related to the very large quantity of water which will be abstracted and discharged. It could have a negative effect on mobile species associated with the internationally protected sites as designation features (e.g. river lamprey, sea lamprey, brook lamprey, salmon, and many bird species). The sites in question include Morecambe Bay SAC/SPA/Ramsar, Duddon Estuary SPA/Ramsar, Drigg Coast SAC, Upper Solway Flats and Marshes SPA/Ramsar, Solway Firth SAC, River Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake SAC, River Ehen SAC, River Eden SAC. Some of these sites have not even been included in the Habitats Regulations Assessment despite their interest feature species using the coastline by the Braystones site where they could be affected by any abstraction and discharge.

 

34. The abstraction of cooling water from the River Ehen SAC would have adverse impacts on the interest features of this internationally protected site, including on the population of pearl mussels which is the most important population of this species in the UK. Development of marine loading facilities and pipelines for this site would damage natterjack toad habitat, and prevent movement of this species up and down the coast. There is not enough information provided in this submission to ensure that there will be no negative impact on internationally protected sites and species.

 

Nationally and locally designated sites, protected species and Priority Habitat

35. The proximity of the site to the Silver Tarn, Hollas & Harnsey Mosses SSSI raises issues about the potential for the development to impact on the interest features of this SSSI. Changes to drainage and sediment entrainment have the potential to damage the ecological interest features of this site. The Braystones site boundary is directly adjacent to Gibb Tarn County Wildlife Site, and 100m from the Braystones Coast County Wildlife Site. These are sites of County level importance. Changes to hydrology and sediment entrainment will have the potential to damage these sites. There are records for protected species on the site and for marine mammals directly offshore. The proposed site of the Braystones power station will directly affect a Priority Habitat, Coastal Habitats Above High Water. The implementation of the development and associated infrastructure would damage this habitats and prevent it from performing its function which is to allow corridors for movement of plant and animal species.

 

Marine impacts

36. The discharge of warm water from a Braystones facility into the Irish Sea could have a major impact on the marine environment and affect the behaviour and distribution of marine species including Key UK Priority Habitats such as blue mussel beds, Sabelleria reefs, tideswept channels and mud and sand flats. It is also likely that chlorine would be used as a biocide to prevent marine life sticking to inlet and outflow pipes. The bleaching effects on marine life of chlorination will depend on volumes, rate of decay and complex chemical reactions. The potential effects of discharged water on the natural environment is not adequately discussed in the Habitats Regulations Assessment and the impact on populations of marine species of the abstraction of large volumes of seawater is not addressed at all. There is not enough information provided in this submission to ensure that there will be no negative impact on marine life.

 

Sellafield

Internationally protected sites

37. Abstraction and discharge from a facility at Sellafield could have a negative impact on the interest feature species associated with a number of internationally protected sites along the coast of Cumbria. This is due to changes in water temperature and use of biocides related to the very large quantity of water abstracted and discharged. It would have a negative effect on mobile species associated with the internationally protected sites as designation features (e.g. river lamprey, sea lamprey, brook lamprey, salmon, and many bird species). The sites in question include Morecambe Bay SAC/SPA/Ramsar, Duddon Estuary SPA/Ramsar, Drigg Coast SAC, Upper Solway Flats and Marshes SPA/Ramsar, Solway Firth SAC, River Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake SAC, River Ehen SAC, River Eden SAC. Some of these sites have not even been included in the Habitats Regulations Assessment despite their interest feature species using the coastline by the Sellafield site where they would be affected by water abstraction and discharge. More information is needed about the potential effects of discharges on these species.

 

38. The abstraction of cooling water from Wastwater and the River Ehen SAC would have adverse impacts on the interest features of these internationally protected sites, including on the population of pearl mussels in the Ehen which has the most important population of this species in the UK. Development of marine loading facilities and pipelines for this site would damage natterjack toad habitat, and prevent movement of this species up and down the coast. There is not enough information provided in this submission to ensure that there will be no negative impact on internationally protected sites and species.

 

Nationally and locally designated sites, protected species and Priority Habitat

39. The area delineated for the proposed new nuclear site at Sellafield includes part of the Church Moss SSSI. As the proposed nuclear power station site is so large, it is unclear why part of Church Moss SSSI was included within the site boundary. This seems to be an unnecessary allocation of land of high ecological value. This site and its hydrologically functional surrounds should be removed from the proposed site. The SSSI is designated for its habitats and also for its invertebrate value. This richness of invertebrate diversity is extremely high on the western boundary of the site along the disused railway line where there are a number of records for the same scarce invertebrates found on the SSSI.

 

40. The site also includes Sellafield Tarn, a County Wildlife Site of County importance. As with the SSSI, this site should be excluded from the proposed nuclear development, or if kept within the site, should not be developed due to its biodiversity interest. It should be noted that the Sellafield site has a high species diversity including internationally protected (natterjack toads and brown long eared bats) and nationally protected species (grass snake, slow worm, adder, common lizard, badger). There are also records for marine mammals directly offshore. The Herpetological Conservation Trust have identified land in this area to be of high value for its natterjack toad population and it is delineated as Natterjack Site D23 in their dataset. Site D23 extends approximately 100m into the proposed Sellafield site on the south west side. There are a number of bird species of conservation concern found at the site including some which may be mobile features of SPA/Ramsar sites.

 

Marine impacts

41. The discharge of warm water from a Sellafield facility into the Irish Sea could have an adverse impact on the marine environment and affect the behaviour and distribution of marine species including Key UK Priority Habitats such as blue mussel beds, Sabelleria reefs, tideswept channels and mud and sand flats. It is also likely that chlorine would be used as a biocide to prevent marine life sticking to inlet and outflow pipes. The bleaching effects on marine life of chlorination will depend on volumes, rate of decay and complex chemical reactions. The potential effects of discharged water on the natural environment is not adequately discussed in the HRA and the impact on populations of marine species of the abstraction of large volumes of seawater is not addressed at all.

 

Impact on the Lake District National Park

42. Cumbria Wildlife Trust considers that the sites at Kirksanton and Braystones should be removed from the list of proposed sites in the Nuclear National Policy Statement EN-6 due to their proximity to the Lake District National Park. The designation of the Lake District National Park for its landscape includes biodiversity within the reasons for designation. The siting of the power stations on greenfield sites at Braystones and Kirksanton will adversely affect the environmental quality of the Lake District National Park.

 

Conclusions

43. Cumbria Wildlife Trust believes that the use of Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Importance to justify damage to internationally protected sites has been misapplied in the case of EN-6. IROPI has been applied in a blanket fashion not just at a policy level as with the other NPS documents, but at a site specific level prior to an adequate assessment of those sites having been carried out. The site level Habitats Regulations Assessments are vague, and are in no way reassuring that damage to Natura 2000 sites can actually be mitigated or compensated for. This may leave the government in a situation of having allocated sites where development would cause damage to Natura 2000 sites which cannot be compensated for, therefore under the Habitats Directive, the development of the site cannot go ahead, even with IROPI. By indicating that all ten allocated sites must go ahead, the government is pushing an agenda which may not be legally possible and could in fact be considered ultra vires.

 

44. It is of particular concern that there has been no meaningful assessment of the cumulative effects that the potential development of power stations at Wylfa, Heysham, Kirksanton, Sellafield and Braystones would have on Morecambe Bay habitats and Irish Sea marine life.

 

45. The Kirksanton allocation should be withdrawn from the Nuclear NPS (EN-6) on the basis that the site is too ecologically sensitive to host a nuclear power plant and associated infrastructure, and that the developer will not be able to compensate for the damage that will occur to the Natura 2000 sites. It will simply prove impossible to find suitable existing habitat or to create new habitat on a large enough scale to compensate for the loss of and damage to the biodiversity of the Duddon Estuary and Morecambe Bay Natura 2000 sites. The proposed development will therefore be contrary to the requirements of the Habitats Directive/Habitats Regulations despite IROPI, on the basis that without adequate compensation for loss of habitat, the development would simply not be able to proceed.

 

46. There are sensitive habitats and species found at the Sellafield and Braystones proposed sites. New facilities here have the potential to impact on these and nearby internationally protected sites. Any submissions to the IPC for development at these locations will need to have extensive and rigorous investigations of the impacts of the construction and operation of these installations on the biodiversity found at these sites. A mitigation and compensation package of the highest quality should be put forward with any application to the IPC at these sites. The precautionary principle should apply, and even if IROPI is used as a reason to go ahead with the developments, compensation over and above the losses that may take place has be put in place prior to the loss of any biodiversity.

 

 

January 2010



[1] Paragraphs 3.3.16-3.3.23

[2]Page 9 of Consultation on the Strategic Siting Assessment Process and Siting Criteria for New Nuclear Power Stations in the UK http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file47136.pdf

[3] http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/management/docs/art6/guidance_art6_4_en.pdf

[4] EN-1 Paragraphs 3.3.16 - 3.3.19

[5] http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/npss/EN-6.pdf

[6] https://www.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/nuclear/ssa/dungeness/assessment/

[7] http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/atkins.pdf

[8] https://www.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/nuclear/alternatives/annex/druridgebay/

[9]Page 9 of Consultation on the Strategic Siting Assessment Process and Siting Criteria for New Nuclear Power Stations in the UK http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file47136.pdf

[10] Environment Agency "What's in your backyard" http://tiny.cc/TVd50 (URL shortened for convenience)

[11] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/ProtectedSites/SACselection/n2kforms/UK0013027.pdf

[12] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/pdf/SPA/UK9005031.pdf

[13] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/pdf/RIS/UK11022.pdf

[14] http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/aos/kirksanton/report.pdf

[15] Cumbria Vision "The Scope for Renewable Energy in Cumbria" 2009

[16] British Energy (2008), Proposed Nuclear Development at Bradwell: Environmental Scoping Report, Royal Haskoning UK, November

[17] 25 year average at the point at which the Thames becomes tidal

[18] http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/hra/kirksanton/report.pdf

[19] JNCC Ramsar Information Sheet UK11022

[20] http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2006/ukpga_20060016_en_4#pt3-pb1-l1g41

[21] http://www.ukbap.org.uk/library/BRIG/SHRW/SpeciesandHabitatReviewReport2007andAnnexes1-3.pdf Page 80. Reasons for selection of Priority Habitats include: Habitats for which the UK has international obligations, habitats at risk, habitats which are important for assemblages of key species and habitats which are restricted to isolated locations which are threatened with extinction.