Marinet struggles to get Env. Agency to consider Bradwell licence “irregularities”

On 10th October 2015 Marinet reported that it had written to the Chairman of the Environment Agency Board, Sir Philip Dilley, asking him to investigate whether the issuing of a renewed licence to Magnox Limited to allow the company to continue to discharge waste radioactivity, heavy metals and nitrates from the decommissioning of the Bradwell nuclear power station, Essex, into the Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Estuaries Marine Conservation Zone (Blackwater MCZMCZ Marine Conservation Zone) was legal given evidence of “irregularities” over the issuing of this renewed licence. Amongst the apparent irregularities was the fact that the impact of these discharges on the Blackwater MCZ appeared not to have been assessed. The Blackwater MCZ is designated for the fact that, along with other reasons, it contains important habitat and populations of the native oyster, Ostrea edulis.

Marinet wrote to the EA Chairman, Sir Philip Dilley on 5th October 2015 at the EA main office in Bristol at Rio House, Almonsdbury. No acknowledgement was received, so a further copy was sent by recorded delivery to Sir Philip on 20th November 2015. No acknowledgement was received, so a further third copy requesting acknowledgement of receipt was sent by recorded delivery on 16th December 2015. In January 2016, the letter of 10th November (sent by recorded delivery) was returned by the Royal Mail on the grounds that it had not been delivered, the Royal Mail having been informed by the Env. Agency that the person to whom it was addressed had “gone away”. A telephone call was then made by Marinet to the EA Chairman’s office. This elicited the fact that the Head Office in Bristol was no longer at Rio House, Almondsbury, but rather in the centre of Bristol at Deanery Road. This appeared to account for why the mail had been “undelivered”. Marinet was requested to send all the correspondence electronically, and this was done on 8th January 2016. Receipt was confirmed on 11th January 2016. In parenthesis, Sir Philip Dilley resigned later in January as Chairman of the EA Board, and Marinet’s letter of 16th December (sent by recorded delivery) was also returned by the Royal Mail on the grounds that the addressee had “gone away”.

Marinet received a reply to the matters in question. The reply was dated 19th January 2016. It stated that there was nothing irregular in the issuing of the new licence, and that effectively the old licence still existed as there had been a decision by the Env. Agency not to enforce the time limit of the old licence. On the matter of whether the discharges of waste radioactivity, heavy metals and nitrates had been assessed for their impact on the Blackwater MCZ, there was no advice. This reply was written by the Env. Agency’s Area Manager, Essex.

Given that it appears that the impact of the discharges from Bradwell on the Blackwater MCZ still do not appear to have been assessed by the Env. Agency and that the old discharge licence is still “operative” despite having exceeded its expiry date, Marinet decided to follow these questions up and to write by recorded delivery to the CEO of the Env. Agency, Sir James Bevan, on 2nd February 2016. No reply was been received by Marinet after two weeks, so a reminder letter was sent to Sir James on 12th February 2016. After a further week no acknowledgement had been received from the Env. Agency’s CEO, so Marinet telephoned his office. The CEO’s office investigated the matter, found the letters of 2nd and 12th February, and has now confirmed by email dated 19th February 2016 that the matter will be brought to the attention of Sir James Bevan, Env. Agency CEO.

Marinet has also written to the Marine Management Organisation, which has statutory responsibility for licences issued in MCZsMCZ Marine Conservation Zone and the assessment of their impact in order to establish whether the MMO has been consulted regarding the Bradwell discharge licence and the impact on the Blackwater MCZ. This enquiry to the MMO is dated 5th February 2016 and the MMO has replied 9th February 2016 stating that the matter is being looked into. Similarly, Marinet has asked Natural England in a letter date 31st January 2016 whether the organisation had been consulted about the impact of the discharges on the Blackwater MCZ, and Natural England replied 18th February 2016 to say that it had not yet been consulted but expected to be so in the coming weeks.

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