Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Land use planning

Nuclear installations

Introduction

ONR provides advice to local planning authorities on any planning applications for developments around nuclear sites. The advice provided seeks to limit the radiological consequences to members of the public in the event of a nuclear emergency.

Under the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR), local authorities are required to put in place detailed off-site emergency planning arrangements. The off-site plans are put in place to minimise and mitigate the health consequences of any significant radiological release that might occur as a result of an incident at the nuclear site.

As any proposed development in the vicinity of a licensed nuclear site could have an impact on the local emergency planning arrangements, ONR's advice on planning applications is informed by the views of local authority Emergency Planners. ONR is responsible for setting Detailed Emergency Planning Zones (DEPZ) for sites where there could be an off-site radiological release. Local authorities are required to prepare plans for responding to an off-site nuclear emergency, within the DEPZ area.

The impact of any proposed development on the emergency plans depends on multiple factors including, its size in terms of the population involved, the type of development (e.g. nursery or care home), transport infrastructure, local communication networks, and any other special features which might affect emergency countermeasures in the event of a nuclear emergency. Any proposed industrial and commercial developments in the vicinity of the nuclear installation, which have the potential to constitute an external hazard, are of particular additional concern. The impact of such developments on the safety of the nuclear installation requires detailed assessment.

Consultation zones

For the purpose of advising on planning applications, ONR has two consultation zones:

Each consultation zone has its own consultation criteria set out in Part 1 of the table below. Part 2 of the table provides guidance on how the criteria should be interpreted.

The ONR Consultation Process

ONR requests that local planning authorities notify it of any application for planning permission that meets the consultation criteria set out in the table below. Applications for planning permission include applications made under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. ONR also asks to be consulted on any reserved matters application for development that meets the consultation criteria, which was not previously notified at outline matters stage.

When ONR is consulted by a Local Planning Authority regarding a planning application for a development that meets the consultation criteria, it will undertake the following process:

  1. ONR will consult with the emergency planning function within the local authority, whose area includes the relevant nuclear licensed site. This is in order for ONR to seek assurance that the proposed development has been discussed with the licensee and can be accommodated within the local Authority's existing off-site emergency planning arrangements, or that the off-site emergency planning arrangements will be amended to accommodate the proposed development.
  2. If the proposed development presents a potential external hazard to a nuclear licensed site, ONR will consult the licensees planning function to obtain their opinion as to the significance of the proposal with regard to safety on their site.
  3. ONR will state that it does not advise against the proposed development on planning grounds if, in the Inspectors opinion, the following statements apply:
    • the local authority emergency planners have provided adequate assurance that the proposed development can be accommodated within their existing off-site emergency planning arrangements (or an amended version); and
    • the development does not represent an external hazard to a nuclear licensed site or the Planning Function for the site(s) that may be affected by the development have demonstrated that it would not constitute a significant hazard with regard to safety on their site;
  4. When ONR have not received a response from either the local authority emergency planning function or the licensees planning function, ONR may provide a conditional response, in order to meet the consultation deadline. Conditional responses may state that:
    • ONR does not advise against the development, provided that :or
    • ONR advises against the development unless
      In exceptional cases, ONR may notify the local planning authority that ONR is not in a position to make a determination with regard to the application.
  5. In all other cases, where the above statements do not apply, the ONR Inspector will determine that ONR advises against the proposed development.

ONR consultation criteria table

Part 1 - consultation criteria

Zone Criteria
DEPZ

Any new development, re-use or re-classification of an existing development that could lead to an increase in residential or non-residential populations thus impacting on the off-site emergency plan.

Any new development, re-use or re-classification of an existing development that could pose an external hazard to the site.

Outer Zone

Any new development, re-use or re-classification that will lead to a material increase in the size of an existing development, which is otherwise likely to impact on the off-site emergency plan.

Any new development, re-use or re-classification that will lead to a material increase in the size of an existing development that could have an impact on the extendibility of countermeasures beyond the DEPZ.

Any new development, re-use or re-classification of an existing development that could pose an external hazard to the site.

Part 2 - Development category examples

The following descriptions provide examples of the types of developments that ONR would expect to be consulted on but are not meant to be exhaustive

Type Description
External hazards
Commercial& industrial

Developments (requiring either Hazardous Substances Consent and / or have to be notified under the Pipeline Safety Regulations) in the vicinity of the nuclear installation which have the potential to constitute an external hazard. For example those:

  • that involve the handling, processing, transport and storage of chemicals having a potential for explosions or for the production of gas clouds capable of deflagration or detonation;
  • in which asphyxiant, toxic, or corrosive materials are stored, processed, transported and otherwise dealt with, that can be discharged under normal or accident conditions;
  • that could increase the likelihood of missiles or any other form of impact loading such as wind turbines (blade detachment) and military facilities (missiles, aircraft);
  • that could increase the likelihood of electromagnetic interference, and/or electrical transmission grid instability;
  • that could increase the likelihood of flooding or blockage of cooling water inlets by silt, debris or biological phenomena such as algae or other forms of marine life, which could have an adverse effect on nuclear safety systems.
Developments likely to adversely affect the operation of the off-site emergency plan
Businesses and general industry Including offices, financial institutions, research and development facilities, laboratories, high technology and light industry employing more than 50 people, wind farms, aircraft runways and runway extensions.
Storage or Distribution Wholesale warehouses, repositories, petrol filling stations.
Hotels Hotels, motels, boarding and guest houses.
Residential Institutions Residential schools and colleges, hospitals and convalescent/nursing homes.
Secure Residential Institution Use for a provision of secure residential accommodation, including a prison, young offenders institution, detention centre, secure training centre, custody centre, short term holding centre, secure hospital, secure local authority accommodation or use as a military barracks.
Residential Residential housing, flats, caravan sites.
Non-residential Institutions Places of worship, church halls, clinics, health centres, crches, day nurseries, consulting rooms, museums, public halls, libraries, art galleries, exhibition halls, law court, non residential education and training centres, supermarkets and retail parks.
Assembly and Leisure Cinemas, concert and conference venues, sporting establishments, leisure pools, skating rinks, gymnasiums, other indoor and outdoor sports and leisure uses.