Sizewell C reaches major milestone

June 05, 2020

The application to build Sizewell C, a new nuclear power station in Suffolk, UK, has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. Structural Soils, RSK’s geotechnical and geoenvironmental site-investigation company and a lead supplier to the nuclear sector, has undertaken several phases of ground investigation on the site. The development consent order (DCO) application was submitted on 27 May 2020.

If approved, Sizewell C will supply about six million homes with always-on, low-carbon electricity made in the UK. It will support the expansion of renewables and improve the UK’s national resilience by reducing the need for energy imports.

The new power station will also provide a huge stimulus to the UK economy following the coronavirus pandemic. About 25,000 employment opportunities and 1,000 apprenticeships will be created during the construction period. In the East of England, Sizewell C will boost training and employment opportunities for young people and create long-term, well-paid jobs. Once operational, the power station will employ 900 people in highly skilled positions based in Suffolk.

Structural Soils has been involved with the project since June 2019, when the onshore ground investigation commenced. The site work covered the main platform for the proposed Sizewell C site, the surrounding site of special scientific interest, the foreshore and the beach. Intrusive work included in-situ piezocone penetration testing, seismic cone penetration testing and vein testing; sonic, rotary, cable and Ménard pressuremeter testing boreholes for geotechnical, geoenvironmental and radiological testing; and hydraulic conductivity testing within boreholes during drilling. Geophysical surveys from the surface and downhole were undertaken, including downhole optical logging and cross-hole geophysical testing. Stepped- and constant-rate pump tests were also undertaken on the site.

“Following a year of hard work and incredible teamwork from Structural Soils and RSK group companies to ensure the success of the ground investigation project, the submission of the DCO is a major milestone,” said Structural Soils Geotechnical Engineer Helen Perry-Smith. “A strong working relationship between Structural Soils, EDF Energy and its technical test department for geology, geotechnics and civil engineering (TEGG) developed during the project. There were no issues that the project team could not overcome, from the development of pressurised sample cells to drilling environmentally sensitive boreholes on the foreshore and, most recently, the challenge of continuing site work in the uncertain times that have been caused by the coronavirus.

“Knowing that the project has reached the next milestone is a fantastic achievement for everyone who has been involved. Structural Soils has achieved yet another successful nuclear ground investigation from the technical perspective and with a very high standard of health and safety. The professional relationship developed during the project has confirmed Structural Soils as a leading company for onshore nuclear projects in the UK,” concludes Perry-Smith.

Structural Soils is a major supplier to the nuclear sector, having worked extensively on proposed nuclear new-build developments and nuclear sites undergoing decommissioning for a wide range of clients, including EDF Energy, Horizon Nuclear Power, British Energy and Magnox, at more than eight nuclear-licensed sites across the UK.

Sizewell C will be a near-replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset, which is delivering huge economic benefits to the South West and boosting the UK’s industrial capacity. Using the same design means that Sizewell C will benefit from significantly reduced construction costs and lower levels of risk. Structural Soils also undertook the preliminary and main/intermediate phase ground investigations at Hinkley Point.

The application for a DCO at Sizewell C follows four rounds of public consultation, which began in 2012. More than 10,000 residents and organisations in Suffolk have contributed their views and helped to shape the final proposals.

The DCO application was deferred for two months owing to the extraordinary circumstances created by the coronavirus. Extra measures will now be put in place to make it easier for local communities to scrutinise the proposals once they are published. These include extending the pre-examination period to allow more time for interested parties to register with the Planning Inspectorate.

Full details of the planning process can be found here.

Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson CBE, Managing Director of Sizewell C, said, “Sizewell C is a net-zero infrastructure project ready to kick-start the economy following the coronavirus crisis. It will offer thousands of high-quality job opportunities and long-term employment for people living in Suffolk and it will strengthen the nuclear supply chain across the country. On top of the economic benefits, Sizewell C will avoid nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere each year. The project will play a key role in lowering emissions while helping the UK keep control of its low-carbon future.”

John Dugmore, Chief Executive, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, added, “Sizewell C’s DCO application is momentous for businesses and residents in Suffolk. It will boost training and employment opportunities across the county and attract investment to regenerate rural areas and towns.”

For more information on Structural Soils’ ground investigation and/or nuclear services, please visit the Structural Soils website or contact ask@soils.

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