Decommissioning at Dounreay: Lessons from a Landmark Success 01Nov2012

Case Study: Dounreay’s Planning Framework

What Dounreay needed

In decommissioning three nuclear reactors, Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) required planning permission from Highland Council for several new waste management facilities and demolitions, including:

  • Low level waste storage and disposal facilities
  • Intermediate level waste stores
  • Breeder fuel removal plant
  • Cementation plant

How Dounreay Achieved Planning Permissions

To determine an application, planning authorities must consider the Development Plan. A planning authority’s Development Plan is a set of key documents which list the land use and environmental issues which must be addressed to achieve planning permission.

DSRL (following earlier work by the UKAEA) recognised the importance of the Development Plan early in their planning.

We worked with DSRL and Highland Council to produce a master plan and, application and environmental impact assessment (EIA) strategies as part of the Dounreay Planning Framework (DPF).

The DPF was then adopted by the Highland Council as a development brief to form part of the Development Plan. This was a nuclear decommissioning first – we are proud to have contributed to this major success.

DSRL’s achievement remains highly significant, for example, it paved the way for dividing their 35 year decommissioning plan into three ‘land use’ development phases.

The way forward

Building on our shared successes with DSRL, we recommend SLCs work proactively with LPAs. This reduces the risk of delay, abortive costs, and legal challenge. It is also important to translate site-specific decommissioning plans into a development brief which includes the master plan and development schedule. To optimise prospects for success, SLCs should work with LPAs to have the development brief adopted as supplementary policy guidance to the Development Plan.

We believe that the planning system should be embraced, not feared.

If you would like to discuss our experience and how we could help with your decommissioning plans, contact us at Zyda Law:

01789 413 949