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

Information on our pre-application discussions with EDF Energy about a new marine licence application

Coronavirus update


Our staff are now home working wherever possible. Whilst we hope to keep disruption to a minimum, please be aware there may be a longer processing time during this period of transition.


Find out more about our response to coronavirus

NRW’s pre-application advice on EDF Energy’s proposed sampling plan

On 10 June 2020, we provided our pre-application advice to EDF Energy on its proposed sampling plan. Our advice is presented in a single document with 17 recommendations that EDF Energy will need to consider before submitting its final sampling plan to us for approval. The document also contains a summary of the consultation responses we received and our response to the points raised.

Read NRW’s pre-application advice to EDF Energy and a summary of the consultation responses

Read other documents relating to the draft sediment sampling plan on our online public register

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 600,000m3.

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, 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 from NRW.

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 they will test the sediment, complies with internationally agreed guidance under the OSPAR Convention and procedure developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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 require a marine licence from NRW 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 expect to receive a request from EDF to consider whether an EIA will be required as part of the application process. This is known as a Screening Opinion request. Once received, we will assess EDF’s request in line with the appropriate legislation and regulations as to whether the project is likely to have a significant effect on the environment. We will publish the request from EDF and our decision (the Screening Opinion) on our public register. This step will inform EDF’s marine licence application.

Further information explaining the screening process is available on our website.

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 their 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.

June 2020 – NRW provided its pre-application advice to EDF on the content of the sampling plan and its compliance with the international guidelines.

August 2020 – expected submission of final sampling plan for NRW approval.

August / September 2020 – expected submission of EDF’s request for a Screening Opinion from NRW on the need for an EIA to support a future marine licence application for the disposal of marine sediment at Cardiff Grounds.

2020 – submission of EDF’s marine licence application to NRW.

2020 – public engagement and consultation on the marine licence application.

Winter 2020/21 – possible date for the decision on the marine licence application by NRW.


This page was updated on 30 July 2020.