To ask Her Majesty's Government how they plan to incorporate predictions by the International Panel on Climate Change of rapid sea level rises into their assessments of (1) coastal erosion, and (2) flooding, to enable planning authorities to request up to date Flood Risk Assessments for new nuclear power stations.
10 March 2021
Nuclear new-build facilities are subject to a number of consenting regimes. Firstly, the nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) regime under the 2008 Planning Act which considers the initial grant of consent; and secondly the nuclear safety regime under the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) which controls nuclear safety aspects on an ongoing basis throughout the facility’s lifetime.
Proposals for nuclear new-build are NSIPs and are decided by the relevant Secretary of State. Proposals are judged against the relevant national policy statement(s) (NPS). The relevant NPSs make reference to the importance of facilities being resilient and adaptable to climate change. They aim to ensure new facilities are located, constructed, operated and decommissioned with the long-term impacts of climate change in mind.
The Environment Agency provides advice and guidance on this process including on how climate change should be accounted for in relevant flood risk assessments. This was last updated in July 2020 to reflect the latest sea level rise projects (UKCP18). Our advice recommends that flood risk is considered across a range of different climate scenarios, including credible but extreme scenarios (i.e. High++ emissions scenario).
The Environment Agency works closely with the ONR to manage the interaction between the NSIP regime and the nuclear safety regulatory regime. The Environment Agency has produced a number of joint guidance notes with the ONR, to outline their collective approach to flood risk and climate change. These are attached to this answer and can also be found here:
- Use of UK Climate Projections 2018 - Use of UK Climate Projections 2018 (UKCP18) - Revision 1, November 2020 (onr.org.uk); and
- Principles for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management - Principles for Flood and Coastal Erosion (onr.org.uk)
The National Coastal Erosion Map (NCERM) shows erosion projections to 2110 and informs coastal management through Shoreline Management Plans (SMP). This helps manage direct erosion and to manage sediment supplies down the coast which can be relevant for flood risk areas.
All English nuclear power stations have SMP policies of Hold the Line (maintain or upgrade the level of protection provided by defences) for the whole timescale of the hundred year plans. Recent reviews of SMP policies for these stretches of the coast have shown the strategic direction of Hold the Line is deemed fit for the future.