HMNB Clyde Application Consultation

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Closes 13 Mar 2020


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has submitted an application to SEPA for new administrative arrangements covering the disposal of radioactive waste at HMNB Clyde, Coulport and Faslane. The application covers discharges from a new effluent treatment facility at Faslane and seeks to update existing arrangements in line with current standards. The purpose of this consultation is to highlight the main points within the application, provide some background details and to seek the views of consultees on the proposed changes.

Application of Radioactive Substances Legislation to MoD

In Scotland the disposal of radioactive wastes was subject to the provisions of the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (RSA93) until 1 September 2018. RSA93 was largely replaced from this date by Environmental Authorisations (Scotland) Regulations 2018 (EASR). Section 42 of RSA93 provided an exemption for MoD and this exemption is replicated in Regulation 78 of EASR. However, MoD policy states that:

“Where Defence has exemptions, derogations or dis-applications from HS&EP legislation, we maintain Departmental arrangements that produce outcomes that are, so far as reasonably practicable, at least as good as those required by UK legislation."

Historically, the disposal of radioactive substances is covered in administrative arrangements between MoD and SEPA such that the provisions of RSA93 were applied appropriately. The framework of these arrangements is detailed in a MoD SEPA agreement on Matters Relating to Radioactive Substances, see paper 1. MoD and SEPA are working to update this framework to reflect the change in legislation. The update is likely to result in changes in terminology but the overall approach to regulation will not change significantly.

At a site level the arrangements take the form of Letter of Agreement (LOAs). These letters contain conditions and limitations on the disposal of waste similar to those previously included in RSA93 section 13 authorisations and now for EASR permits. The extant Letters of Agreement for HMNB Clyde Faslane and Coulport are included in annex 1 of paper 4b and paper 5 . These Letters of Agreement are being renewed.

RSA93 and EASR have requirements specific to sites licensed under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (NIA65).  MoD has exemptions from NIA65 and consequently HMNB Clyde Faslane and Coulport are not licensed under NIA65. In line with the MoD policy position stated above MoD has developed its own licensing arrangements to mirror NIA65. These arrangements are enforced by MoD’s internal regulator the Defence Nuclear Safety Regular (DNSR). The HMNB Clyde sites are DNSR Authorised Sites that are the MoD equivalent to Nuclear Sites licensed under NIA65. Consequently, SEPA treats these sites as if they were licensed under NIA65.

Consultation Process

For some activities such as the permitting of sites licensed under NIA65 SEPA consults with the public and other relevant bodies. As we consider the DNSR authorised sites at Faslane and Coulport to be equivalent to a NIA65 Nuclear licensed site it is appropriate for SEPA to consult on this application.

SEPA has decided to consult the following bodies at the following stages.

Consultation Stage 1

SEPA has consulted with the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR), and DNSR, as this application relates to a MoD site, in their regulatory capacities. Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has been consulted with regards their role in the food safety. Previously RSA93 (section 24) and now EASR Schedule1 paragraph 23 provides Scottish Ministers the powers to determine applications. SEPA historically consulted Scottish Ministers to provide opportunity for these powers to be exercised. Scottish Ministers have been consulted on this application. The responses from the first stage of the consultation are included as paper 2.

Consultation Stage 2

Stage 2 of the consultation is to engage with other relevant public bodies and organisations that SEPA considers appropriate. The public bodies and organisations that SEPA has decided to consult with during this stage are listed below: 

  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Environment Agency
  • Argyll and Bute Council
  • West Dunbartonshire Council
  • Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board
  • Highlands and Islands Health Board
  • Scottish Water
  • Public Health England
  • Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment

In addition to those bodies, listed SEPA has notified the members of the Clyde Local Liaison Committee and has invited comment from the wider public. To this end the consultation is being advertised in:

  • The Edinburgh Gazette;
  • The Herald; and
  • The Helensburgh Advertiser.

In undertaking this Stage 2 consultation SEPA is looking for information relevant to this application. Specifically SEPA would like to be informed of any matters that your organisation or you as an individual are aware of that could influence SEPA’s decision to make the proposed changes.

Consultation Stage 3

Following the previous consultation steps and SEPA’s determination of the application, the consultees from the first consultation stage will be consulted on the details of SEPA’s determination and decision.

SEPA will document the determination considerations and details of any new arrangements. This document is known as a “decision document”. This document will be made available on SEPA’s website at the end of the process. Consultation responses will be included in this document. Therefore anyone responding to this consultation should be aware that their responses will be made public unless a respondent specifically asks for their response to be treated confidentially (see Question 10). Confidential responses may be included in any statistical summary of numbers of responses received or views expressed.

Respondents should also be aware that SEPA is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and therefore have to consider any request made to it under this legislation for information relating to responses made.