Absent from the Stage 2 public consultation on Moorside, starting on 14th May, will be detailed plans of the exact location and extent of the sub-seabed cooling tunnels and associated marine facilities because the offshore geotechnical survey designed specifically to pinpoint these vital components of the Moorside project will only start in early May and is unlikely to be completed by the end of the consultation on 30th July.
In its 22nd April letter to NuGen’s CEO Tom Samson, CORE has described the absence of cooling system data for the three projected Westinghouse AP1000 reactors as wholly unacceptable in effectively disenfranchising consultees and thereby reducing the credibility of the consultation process. The failure to provide the data must also undermine the validity of the Development Consent Order (DCO) application expected to be made by NuGen next year – an application to the Secretary of State (for the Department of Energy & Climate Change) that will be underpinned by consultation responses designed to ‘help to shape the Moorside project’
CORE’s campaign coordinator Martin Forwood said today:
“Running the consultation without detailed offshore cooling system information is no better than submitting a plan for a new house that doesn’t show the external mains water, drainage and sewage systems. To invite people to ‘have your say’ on a half-baked plan makes a mockery of the consultation and will undermine public confidence. Tempting consultees with an artist’s fairy-tale impression of what Moorside will look like does nothing to compensate for short-changing consultees on crucial details”.
The problem has been a long time coming and was first flagged up by CORE when NuGen applied to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) late last year for a licence to carry out the offshore survey needed to locate the cooling tunnels. Then expecting licence approval on the 1st April 2016, the survey work would have run to the end of the licence period on 31st August 2016 – but has now extended to the end of September as a result of the 3-week delay in securing licence approval,
Documents released by MMO last week confirm that the offshore geotechnical survey will be carried out within Moorside’s 20.6 sq/km Marine Infrastructure Area (MIA). The survey, in two Phases, will consist of up to 40 sampling boreholes in total sunk to a depth of up to 97 metres via a jack-up platform and support vessels – with Phase 1 comprised of 11 boreholes whose location has been identified by NuGen. Providing further evidence of the likely duration of the offshore survey, licence conditions imposed by MMO require that work on the 29 Phase 2 boreholes cannot begin until the detailed location of the boreholes has been submitted 4 weeks in advance, and only then once a variation to the marine licence has been secured.
Martin Forwood added
“Given the range of uncertainties and unknowns afflicting Moorside, NuGen needs to level with local communities about the realities and timescales of its project. The claims that three reactors will be up and running by 2026, dutifully regurgitated verbatim by a compliant media, are illusionary and clearly dishonest when viewed against the woeful Westinghouse AP1000 experience overseas and the delays already knocking on Moorside’s door here in West Cumbria”.