This is entry number 82, first published on 8 January 2010, of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog. If you would like to receive blog updates by email, click here.

Today's entry alerts those interested in the Nuclear National Policy Statement to the published transcripts of the local consultation events.

The Nuclear National Policy Statement (NPS) (codename EN-6) was published in draft along with six others on 9 November 2009. When finalised (or 'designated' to use the correct term), applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects will be assessed by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) against the relevant NPS and cannot be granted if they are not in accordance with it.

Draft NPSs must be consulted upon and must undergo Parliamentary scrutiny. As EN-6 named ten sites as potentially suitable for nuclear power stations, this imposes further consultation requirements on the government. It must first consult all the local authorities containing those sites and their immediate neighbours (which by my calcuations involves over 100 local authorities) on how to publicise the NPS locally. It must then publicise the NPS and take the results into account.

The government decided on a similar format of local publicity for each site (albeit not quite identical). For each one a local exhibition would be held on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and a two-hour public meeting would be held on the Saturday. The full list of consultation events is set out in an earlier blog entry. The first exhibition opened in Hartlepool a mere three days after the publication of the NPS, and six have now been held out of ten, corresponding to five out of ten of the sites (Bradwell in Essex got two, and Sellafield and Braystones in Cumbria will only get one between them given their proximity).

The government has published transcripts of those first six meetings on this page. They do not say how many people attended, but they do give a verbatim account of everything that was said. If their lengths are anything to go by, interest in the meetings increased as time went by:

  • Hartlepool, Teesside - 14 November - 25 pages
  • Hinkley Point, Somerset - 21 November - 35 pages
  • Heysham, Lancashire - expected 28 November but says 30 November - 35 pages
  • Sizewell, Suffolk - 5 December - 41 pages
  • Bradwell, Essex - 10 and 12 December - 30 and 34 pages

Each took the form of an independent facilitator in charge of the proceedings, with two government officials giving presentations - one on the national picture and one on the site in question - and then (if they weren't interrupted) answering questions from the floor. Adam Dawson of DECC handily listed the main concerns people had as safety and security, radioactive waste, 'crowding out' renewables, cost and flood risk.

There are still public events taking place this month and early February on the remaining sites, and also the six energy NPSs in general and the ports NPS. See the above link for details.