Hinkley C: 'Milestone' reached on designs

Hinkley Point power station The new Hinkley Point C station could open in 2020

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The designs for the two nuclear reactors at the planned power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset have won initial approval.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency have issued interim design acceptance statements.

Both said the designs addressed issues identified in a report on the Fukushima accident in Japan.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have said nuclear power is unsafe and claimed the report played down potential dangers.

A final decision on the overall plans for Hinkley C will be made by the government after public consultation.

Plans 'in place'

If it does receive planning permission the new power station could open in 2020.

Kevin Allars, director of nuclear new builds at the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said they had reached "an important milestone".

"This interim acceptance confirms that all the plans on how the industry will resolve the outstanding issues are in place.

"This includes how they will address matters raised in the chief nuclear inspector's report, published in October, on lessons learnt for the UK from Fukushima.

"It is for the designers now to satisfy us that they have resolved these issues. We will not allow industry to build the reactors until they have done so," said Mr Allars.

EDF Energy, which is submitting the planning application, has welcomed the announcement.

Its chief executive, Vincent de Rivaz, said: "It is a major milestone which follows a detailed four-year review by one of the most rigorous independent nuclear safety authorities in the world.

"We are conscious that there is still a lot to do to achieve final certification and we will do it."

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