Oldbury FAQs

Land adjacent to the existing power station at Oldbury is one of eight UK sites included in the Government's Nuclear National Policy Statement (NPS) as being suitable for new nuclear build. The site also has certain advantages of being close to a former nuclear power station, such as existing grid connections and infrastructure.

Our current plan is to construct two reactors at Oldbury, resulting in around 2,700MW (megawatts) of new electricity generating capacity. These would be the Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy (HGNE) Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR), the most advanced nuclear reactor in commercial operation in the world today.

In 2013 the Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Regulation began the process of assessing the suitability of the ABWR’s ‘generic’ design.  This process is now in its fourth and final stage and on track to complete later in 2017.

A key objective of our development is that any plans for Oldbury should take advantage of learning from Wylfa Newydd.

Wylfa Newydd is now approaching significant milestones and these will help us to shape a clear, time efficient and cost effective programme for a potential new plant at Oldbury.

We’re progressing with the detailed design work on the Wylfa Newydd Project.  This will provide further information about the construction timescales which, along with the development of the financing strategy, will allow us to set out a likely timetable for Oldbury.

We expect the first of two Wylfa Newydd reactors will begin operating in the mid 2020s, so it is unlikely that construction would begin at Oldbury before the late 2020s at the earliest.  More information on the Wylfa Newydd Project can be found here.

The UK ABWR is a simplified design which provides a smaller footprint.  As our project develops we will be able to share more information about the station design, including images of how a station is likely to look, and local people will have a chance to have a say on our proposals.
A new plant at Oldbury would have a much greater electricity generating capacity than the existing station. As a result, the new power station will need an indirect cooling system, requiring cooling towers, as the estuary simply could not cope with the greater need for cooling water.  Our preference is for the hybrid cooling towers which are significantly lower in height and are in keeping with the height of the former Magnox station at Oldbury.
We know and understand that the cooling tower size and design is of utmost importance to local people. Given the significance of the issue, and honouring our commitment to keep people up to date, we wanted to share our early view that hybrid cooling towers are the preferred option for Oldbury.
 
However, until we’ve consulted local people formally on our proposed power station designs, it would be premature to fully confirm a final outcome.
All cooling towers will emit noise to some extent and it is normal to include a noise specification to the manufacturer so that the towers will meet background noise limits.  
 
Site design and landscaping will be used to manage noise and the measures we propose will form a key part of any future planning application.
It is true that the cost of building hybrid towers is greater than for Natural Draft Cooling Towers (NDCT). However, a power station is made up of many different components and systems, and ultimately the final design needs to be an acceptable balance between technical, environmental and commercial factors, and be acceptable locally.
Hybrid cooling towers use fans to force the air to flow through the towers and these fans require additional power. Current information suggests hybrid towers for our proposed nuclear power station near Oldbury would use an additional 40 MW or approximately 1-2% of the station’s output
The principle behind the stringent planning and licensing process for new nuclear development in the UK is that all parts of the power station, which are important to ensure nuclear safety, must be protected from all extreme hazards.  This includes the highest flooding levels that can be expected in a one in 10,000 year event.  The potential water level for a flooding event is calculated by taking into account natural phenomenon such as tsunamis or storm surges as well as the possible implications of climate change. Proposals for ensuring this level of protection will be developed with the Environment Agency (EA) and the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and are likely to involve a combination of site-raising and improvements to the area's existing flood protection measures.
 
Whatever is finally proposed, we will have to demonstrate that our flood protection measures do not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere.
There are currently two 132kV overhead lines connecting the existing Oldbury station into the National Grid. To be able to export the electricity generated by our proposed new station, these two lines will need to be upgraded.
 
These improvements will involve increasing the capacity of the existing lines and diverting them from the current 132kV substation next to the Oldbury Magnox station to a new 400kV substation, which would be built next to the proposed power station site. This work will be done by National Grid (NGET), which will carry out its own public consultation process on this aspect of the scheme.
There are several stages in the planning process before any construction can take place. To build a nuclear power station a Development Consent Order (DCO) application must be submitted to The Planning Inspectorate. This process involves a significant period of consultation and can take several years to complete. Full details of the process can be found on The Planning Inspectorate website. Before we submit any planning applications we’ll carry out formal public consultations with local communities and people, in which we will be seeking input and feedback on our plans.
We are committed to clear and transparent communication and in addition to future, formal consultations; we will continue to engage with local communities to keep them up-to-date with our proposals. If you have any questions or feedback you can contact us on our dedicated Oldbury Freephone telephone line 0800 130 3125 or by emailing us at oldburyenquiries@horizonnuclearpower.com