Agenda Item No. 6
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
ECONOMY AND REGENERATION SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 12 OCTOBER 2017
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 9 OCTOBER 2017
C99 DISPOSAL OF DREDGED MATERIAL ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF HINKLEY POINT C POWER STATION (NST) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) -
Cabinet was informed of the position related to a proposal to dispose of dredging material arising from the construction of Hinkley Point C power station at the Cardiff Grounds disposal site and a course of action proposed that was aimed at addressing the significant public interest to the proposal as it stood.
Cardiff Grounds was a licensed disposal site for materials arising from marine dredging. The location was shown in Appendix 1 attached to the report and was the closest licensed disposal site to the area of proposed dredging. As part of the construction of the Hinkley Point C power station, marine dredging was required in the location of the new cooling water intake and outfall sites and to enable provision of a temporary jetty.
Following an application made in August 2012, a Marine Licence (12/45/ML) was granted in July 2014 by NRW to NNB Genco, a subsidiary of EDF Energy, to dispose of the dredged materials arising from the above works. The Licence was attached at Appendix 2 to the report. The Licence was valid until 4 March, 2019 and it permitted a quantity not exceeding 304,885 tonnes to be deposited at the Cardiff Grounds site. The Licence was valid until 4 March, 2019.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council was consulted, as Local Planning Authority by Welsh Government, on the application in September 2012. The application at that time was for 200,000 metres cubed of material and the conclusion of planning officers was that without detailed expertise, and in the limited timescale for making comments, it was difficult to make an informed conclusion of the application and hence no objection was raised. It was however noted that it 'appeared' that the major issues of concern to the authority and of wider interest had been the subject of detailed research, conclusions of which seemed to indicate that the proposal could be carried out without significant impact.
As part of the application a full radiological assessment was undertaken which concluded the proposal was acceptable and this was further reviewed by internal experts in Natural Resources Wales (NRW) who agreed with that conclusion. The radiological assessment was attached at Appendix 3 to the report.
No material from Hinkley Point had been deposited at the Cardiff Grounds site so far, and due to the time that had elapsed since the licence was granted, a further radiological assessment had to be undertaken before this could occur. The assessment would be based on a new set of sediment samples taken as part of a structured sampling programme agreed by NRW and would include all relevant radiological determinants.
There had been concern expressed by individuals about the adequacy of the radiological assessment that was undertaken and the potential health implications of the proposed deposit of material. There was an open e-petition to the Welsh National Assembly calling for NRW to suspend the Licence pending a Public Inquiry, a full hearing of independent evidence and a Public Consultation. The text of the e-petition was included in Appendix 4 attached to the report. In addition the report noted that the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs had issued a written statement on 29 September, 2017 setting out the proposal, the timeline and the existing position. It set out the nature of the marine licence and the conditions for sampling of materials. A copy was attached at Appendix 5 to the report.
The radiological assessment that accompanied the Licence Application was undertaken by CEFAS (Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) an executive agency sponsored by DEFRA and a recognised expert in the field. It had been reviewed by the regulator, NRW, who had agreed with the conclusion that there was no objection to the material being dredged and dumped.
The new radiological assessment being undertaken would be based on a methodology agreed in advance by NRW. As the Licence issued runs until March 2019 there was no legal requirement for NRW to consult with the Vale of Glamorgan Council on the findings of the assessment and the local authority played no formal regulatory role. Officers remained however in dialogue with NRW on this issue and would be able to update Cabinet on the conclusions of the assessment. Due to the specialised nature of this field of work, no internal Council expertise existed to critique the findings of the radiological assessment or the conclusions of the regulator.
This was a matter for Executive decision
Cabinet, having considered the report and all the issues and implications contained therein
(1) T H A T the contents of the report be noted.
(2) T H A T the Leader of the Council writes to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs and the Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales (NRW), expressing this Council's concerns to the proposal to dispose of dredged radioactive material at the Cardiff Grounds disposal site, given the time that has elapsed since issuing of the licence in July 2014.
(3) T H A T within the letter referred to in resolution 2 above, consideration is requested to be given to the methodology to be used for the new radiological assessment of the material, suggesting greater sampling of the material, to full excavation depth and over the entire excavation area.
(4) T H A T within the letter referred to in resolution 2 above, NRW be requested to formally consult this Council on the details of the new, more thorough, radiological assessment prior to any disposal works progressing.
(5) T H A T the Leader of the Council seeks a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, the Chief Executive of NRW and the Leaders of all neighbouring authorities along the Severn Estuary to seek the necessary support for a review of the position by Welsh Government and NRW as detailed in resolutions 2 to 4 above.
(6) T H A T the report be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Environment and Regeneration) for further consideration and discussion.
Reasons for decisions
(1) To note the existing position with the dredging and disposal position of the material associated with the construction of Hinkley Point C power station.
(2-5) To demonstrate the concerns of Vale of Glamorgan residents to the proposal as it stood, to reflect the passage of time since the issuing of the licence in July 2014 and to ensure that all the necessary safeguards were in place to protect public and animal health should this disposal arrangement progress.
(6) To enable further consideration of the issue by the Scrutiny Committee (Environment and Regeneration), given the significant public interest.
Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 9 OCTOBER 2017