Nuclear power stations provide low-carbon electricity to millions of people. In Somerset, the £20-billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power station will contribute 13% of UK electricity by the early 2020s. The UK government authorised the French–British–Chinese-backed energy project in 2010. National Grid was contracted to build, operate and maintain a connection for the power plant in Bridgewater in Somerset and the Seabank substation, north of Avonmouth. However, because the project is a nationally significant infrastructure project under the 2008 Planning Act, National Grid needed to submit a development consent order to the Planning Inspectorate. And, given the environmental complexity of the project, environmental impact assessments were needed.
National Grid hired RSK to complete several environmental impact assessments, including ground conditions and air quality. RSK environmental specialists in Bristol were ideally located to assess the site and offer their excellent local knowledge of the site and other consultees. RSK’s responsive and skilled team quickly went to work. We completed preliminary risk assessments for nine sections of the project, assessed coal mining risk for three sections, wrote a construction environment management plan, attended hearings and liaised with stakeholders.
RSK air quality specialists spent several days carefully detailing the potential effects of dust during construction and decommissioning. Their report also detailed measures to mitigate the adverse effects of dust particles and included road-traffic-related air quality impacts. The data were used in the consortium’s construction plan.
National Grid submitted its development consent order in 2014; two years later, the government granted the order and construction has begun in all areas to help the UK meet its strategic nuclear power objectives.