Environment Agency's regulation of Hinkley Point, about EDF’s appeal, how you can find out about environmental permits and other activities at Hinkley Point.
Applies to England
About Hinkley Point
The Hinkley Point nuclear power stations are on the north Somerset coast. Hinkley Point A was Hinkley Point’s first nuclear power station. It operated from 1965 to 2000 and is being decommissioned.
Hinkley Point B began operation in 1976. It stopped generating electricity on 1 August 2022.
EDF’s company NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd is building a new, twin reactor nuclear power station (Hinkley Point C) at the site. Operation of the first reactor is expected in 2027.
Environment Agency’s regulation at Hinkley Point
The Environment Agency is the independent environmental regulator for the nuclear industry in England. We make sure that nuclear power stations meet our high standards of environmental protection.
We regulate the Hinkley Point sites working closely with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).
We have published information on how we regulate nuclear sites like Hinkley Point.
We have also published information explaining how levels of radioactivity in the environment around the Hinkley Point sites are monitored and assessed.
Hinkley Point A
Hinkley Point A is being decommissioned. The Environment Agency regulates how Magnox manage and dispose of radioactive waste from decommissioning at the site. Environment Agency nuclear regulators attend and report to the Hinkley Point site stakeholder group for Hinkley Point A.
You can find and request information about the environmental permits for Hinkley Point A on the public register. You need to search under ‘Magnox’.
You can find out more about the decommissioning of Hinkley Point A from:
Hinkley Point B
The Environment Agency regulates how EDF is defueling the power station at Hinkley Point B. In particular, we regulate discharges from the site and radioactive waste disposal.
Environment Agency nuclear regulators attend and report to the Hinkley Point site stakeholder group, a joint group for Hinkley Point A and B.
You can find and request information about the environmental permits for Hinkley Point B on the public register. You need to search under ‘EDF’.
You can access reports about Hinkley Point B by ONR.
You can read information about Hinkley Point B from EDF.
Hinkley Point C
Power station design at Hinkley Point C
The Environment Agency and ONR developed an assessment process called Generic Design Assessment (GDA). We use this to scrutinise new nuclear power station designs before they are built.
We used the GDA process to assess the Areva UK EPR reactor design that EDF is constructing at its Hinkley Point C site. The assessment process ended in December 2012 and the Environment Agency and ONR concluded that the reactor design is ‘acceptable’. This means that people and the environment will be properly protected if this reactor design is constructed and operated in the UK.
You can read reports about the GDA assessment process for this design.
The Environment Agency uses the information from our GDA process assessments to help inform decisions on EDF’s environmental permit applications for Hinkley Point C.
Environmental permits for Hinkley Point C
EDF’s Hinkley Point C company, NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd, applied for permits from the Environment Agency to build and operate Hinkley Point C in 2011. These are permits to:
- dispose of and discharge radioactive wastes
- operate standby power supply systems using diesel generators
- discharge cooling water and liquid effluents into the Bristol Channel
The Environment Agency consulted on draft decisions on the applications in autumn 2012.
The Environment Agency issued 3 operational environmental permits to the company for Hinkley Point C in March 2013, for the activities they applied for.
See further information about the decisions on these environmental permit applications from NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd for a proposed nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset.
The Environment Agency carried out a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) for these permits. The HRA checks whether the activity could have a significant negative effect on protected species such as migratory fish or birds, or on protected areas nearby (Severn Estuary and its tributaries, Exmoor and the Quantocks).
The Environment Agency must make sure that activities carried out under an environmental permit will not have a negative effect on vulnerable species and habitats or contribute to their loss.
NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd must also apply to the Environment Agency for environmental permits to carry out specific activities such as:
- site preparation
- construction works
- associated developments such as a park and ride
The Environment Agency will continue to receive applications for environmental permits and changes (variations) to those permits as the development of Hinkley Point C progresses.
See our decisions on applications to vary environmental permits for Hinkley Point C.
You can find and request information about the environmental permits for Hinkley Point C on the public register. You need to search under ‘NNB generation company HPC’.
Environment Agency staff attend and present information to EDF’s Hinkley Point C Fora.
You can read information about Hinkley Point C from EDF.
Application to change a water discharge activity permit for Hinkley Point C
In February 2019 the Environment Agency received an application for a permit variation from NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd.
The company wanted to change how Hinkley Point C nuclear power station takes and discharges cooling water from the Severn Estuary. They wanted to remove the reference to one of the fish protection measures in the existing permit – the Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) from the intake pipes for the cooling water.
Together with other measures, this is intended to reduce the number of fish which could be drawn into the cooling water system and killed.
We held a public consultation in 2019 to seek comments on the permit application.
We produced a HRA as part of the permit determination. We were unable to conclude that removing the AFD would have no adverse effect on the protected habitats and species in the Severn Estuary.
In August 2020, NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd considered (deemed) that we had refused their permit variation because we had not finished ‘determining’ their application.
In September 2020, the company appealed to the Secretary of State (SoS) for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) normally hears and makes decisions on permit appeals. In this instance, the Defra SoS decided they would make the final decision.
In June 2021 PINS led the appeal inquiry. The PINS inspector produced a report presenting recommendations for final determination by the Defra SoS.
On 2 September 2022, the Defra SoS dismissed NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd’s appeal to remove the AFD conditions from the original permit.
read about the permit application and appeal on our consultation website
read documents about the public inquiry, including the programme, on the Defra file sharing service
In January 2023, NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd applied for a permit variation to remove conditions that relate to an AFD, and to add a waste stream for discharge from the fish recovery and return system.
We held a public consultation from 24 January to 2 March to get comments on the permit application. You can view the closed consultation and responses on our consultation website.
We held a public consultation from 25 April to 25 May 2023 on our proposed decision to grant the permit variation and on the draft permit. We published our decision on 31 July 2023.
Licensing of Hinkley Point C nuclear site
ONR is responsible for licensing proposed new sites for nuclear power stations. On 26 November 2012, they granted a nuclear site licence to NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd for its site at Hinkley Point C in Somerset.
You can read information about ONR’s regulation of Hinkley Point C.
Planning process for Hinkley Point C
NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd consulted on its pre-application proposals in stages before applying to PINS for a Development Consent Order for the site.
As a statutory consultee in the planning process. the Environment Agency provided advice and information to PINS throughout the process. Advice note 11 on the PINS website has information about the Environment Agency’s role in the planning process.
On 19 March 2013, the SoS announced his decision to grant planning consent for the Hinkley Point C project. The UK government and EDF announced on 21 October 2013 that they had reached a commercial agreement on the key terms of a proposed investment contract for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
In October 2014, the European Commission approved the agreements between EDF Group and the UK government. The final investment decision and the start of construction took place in the second half of 2016.
You can find out more about the planning process and decision for Hinkley Point C from PINS.
You can read more about UK government decisions on Hinkley Point C or search ‘Hinkley Point C’ on GOV.UK.
Environment Agency’s environmental permitting engagement plan
Decisions about environmental permits will always be the Environment Agency’s responsibility. However, we want these decisions to be better informed through good engagement. We want to understand people’s views and, where relevant, use them to help inform our permit assessments.
See how the the Environment Agency is engaging with the public and stakeholders on environmental permits for the Hinkley Point site. You will be able to respond to our consultations on permit applications and the proposed decisions and draft permits.
We will advertise environmental permit applications on the public register with information about how to get involved. You will be able to see and respond to consultations on our consultations website.
You can contact us at email@example.com.