Disposal of dredged material from Hinkley Point C off the coast of Cardiff, South Wales

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EDF Marine Licensing activities in England

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is responsible for receiving and determining marine licence applications in England.

In December 2020, EDF / NNB Generation Company (HPC) Limited applied to the MMO to vary their existing marine licence. The application included seeking approval to dredge and dispose of marine sediment from the Hinkley Point C development to a marine disposal site off the coast of Portishead. The licence variation (MLA/2012/00259/6) was granted by the MMO on 2 August 2021, with EDF commencing dredge and disposal activities shortly after.

The documents associated with this application are publicly available and can be viewed on the MMO’s Public Register website, using the licence code L/2013/00178 in the search box. The variation associated with this application is variation number 6 (MLA/2012/00259/6).

Should we duly make EDF’s marine licence application to NRW to dispose of dredged material into Cardiff Grounds, the application will be subject to a separate and independent determination, including a consultation with the public and our technical advisors.

EDF Marine Licensing activities in Wales

  • On 12 October 2020, in accordance with Regulation 5 of Marine Works (EIA) Regulations (2017), we confirmed with EDF that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be required for the dredge disposal marine licence application (see the EIA section).
  • On 2 October 2020, EDF Energy announced its intention carry out an EIA as part of of its future marine disposal licence application and formally withdrew its request for an EIA screening opinion from us (see the EIA section).
  • On 15 September 2020, we notified EDF Energy that we had approved its sampling plan (see the Sampling Plan section).

What is EDF Energy planning to do?

We’ve started pre-application discussions with EDF Energy about a new marine licence application to enable them to dispose of dredged marine sediment from the Bristol Channel into an established designated disposal site (Cardiff Grounds) off the coast of Cardiff, South Wales.

The source of the marine sediment is the Somerset foreshore in England, part of the construction site of the Hinkley Point C power station.

EDF previously dredged and disposed of sediment in 2018 and now plans further work at the site in early 2021 to dredge and dispose a further 470,000m3.

The previous testing of the sediment, before its disposal in 2018, showed it contained only a very small amount of radioactivity that was well within legal limits and therefore suitable for disposal at sea.

We will ensure all the assessments, as set out in legislation and international standards, are carried out before any dredging or disposal activity can start. We only grant licences if we’re satisfied that the activity can take place without harming the health of people, wildlife and the environment.

What consents and licences will EDF Energy need?

Before EDF can dispose the sediment in Cardiff Grounds, it will need a sediment sampling plan and a marine licence approved by us.

Sediment Sampling Plan

EDF will be required to undertake a chemical and radiological assessment of the sediment at the dredge locations to find out whether it’s suitable for disposal at sea.

We will decide whether the number, location and depth of samples taken, what is measured and how the sediment will be tested, complies with internationally agreed guidance under the OSPAR Convention and procedure developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

NRW’s approval of EDF’s sampling plan

On 10 June 2020, we provided our pre-application advice to EDF Energy on its proposed sampling plan. The document contains a summary of the consultation responses we received and our response to the points raised.

EDF Energy submitted its final Sample Plan (TR502 v11) on 18 August 2020. Following a review of TR502 v11, we confirm that the recommendations detailed within pre-application advice have been fully addressed and/or incorporated. On 15 September 2020, we notified EDF Energy that we had approved the sampling plan.

We're satisfied that the sediment sampling and analysis is appropriate to support a marine licence application for the disposal of dredged material.

Marine Licences

EDF will require three distinct marine licences for activities in Welsh and English waters.

Two licences are required from the Marine Management Organisation in England. Firstly, to collect samples on the dredge sites at Hinkley Point C. These sediment samples will then be independently tested for chemical and radiological material by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). The second marine licence is to conduct the dredge of the sediment if it’s deemed safe for disposal at sea following the testing.

EDF also requires a marine licence from us for the disposal of the sediment in Welsh waters. The application will include the results of the sediment testing.

We will thoroughly asses the information within the application and will provide further opportunities for people to view and scrutinise the application through a public consultation before we make a final decision.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) - Marine Works (EIA) Regulations (2017)

We received a request from EDF on 14 August 2020 to consider whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be required as part of the application process. This is known as a Screening Opinion request.

EDF announced on 2 October 2020 its intention to treat the future marine disposal licence application as an EIA application, and formally withdrew its Screening Opinion request.

On 12 October 2020 we confirmed with EDF that an environmental impact assessment will be required for the dredge disposal marine licence application. This decision has been made in line with Regulation 5 of Marine Works (EIA) Regulations (2017) and is known as ‘requirement of EIA by agreement’. Our letter to EDF confirming this can be viewed on our public register.​

We want to reassure people that all marine licence applications, whether they are EIA or not, are thoroughly and robustly assessed to protect people and the environment, and to prevent interfering with other legitimate uses of the sea in line with the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009).

Public Engagement

We understand that the previous disposal activity in 2018 caused great public concern, and we recognise that people are also concerned about the new disposal plan, so we are committed to inform, communicate and engage with people as we assess whether the disposal can take place. We also understand that EDF intends to undertake its own communication and engagement.

We started this engagement with a six-week public consultation (5 February 2020 - 18 March 2020) to provide the opportunity for people to comment on EDF’s proposed sampling plan.  

We would like to thank those who took the time to respond to the consultation. We received 151 responses. These were considered to support our pre-application advice to EDF in relation to their proposed sampling plan and its suitability to inform any future marine licence application for its disposal in Wales.

Key Dates

Here are some key indicative dates during both the pre-application and application process for the disposal of the sediment at Cardiff Grounds. These are subject to change and will be updated as necessary.

March 2021 – submission of EDF’s marine licence application to NRW.

TBC - announcement that the application has been deemed duly-made (complete and accepted). 

TBC - public engagement and consultation on the marine licence application.

2021 – decision on the marine licence application by NRW.

This page was updated on 20 September 2021.

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