Press Release: July 24 2012
regulator forced to review aircraft crash risk
nuclear regulator, the
Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), acknowledges that if a
large aircraft were to accidentally crash onto the Dungeness nuclear
site it has the potential to cause its most severe 'Target 9'
accident, killing more than 100 people.
the last five years its rationale for not objecting to the
proposed expansion of nearby Lydd Airport is an assertion
that the probability of such an accident is low
enough to be ignored. This is despite the
development introducing Boeing 737s and Airbus 320s which have
greater potential to cause a large radiological release on impact
than the small aircraft which operate from Lydd today. For
these large passenger jets, the runway is only 60 seconds flying
time from the power stations and positioned such that a
failed take off or landing could leave the aircraft heading towards
the nuclear site.
under the weight of compelling evidence, the ONR now
admits that it may have “got it wrong”. It acknowledges
that the mathematical model which it uses to assess the
probability of an accidental aircraft crash may
be inadequate and applied in error to the Lydd Airport
situation. As a result it has decided to set up a technical advisory
panel to take a grass roots review of the model, including
its application to this airport. It is understood that the panel
will assess evidence presented by a range of experts including
physicist, Dr Roberto Trotta from Imperial College London,
commissioned by LAAG, as well as consider a proposal to
introduce a minimum separation policy (minimum distance between an
airport and a nuclear site) as the only robust way of managing this
large scale accident risk.
the Secretaries of
State should not determine this planning application
until after the advisory panel has completed its review and
the ONR has applied its findings to this particular case.
Yet the ONR's response to a recent government consultation on Dr
Trotta’s research revealed that it has not
considered any of
the evidence presented on this subject and that it is
maintaining its original position not
to oppose Lydd Airport’s planning application. It now suggests
that even if the panel proves that the probability of a
nuclear accident after expansion is unacceptably high, it can
solve the problem by shutting down Dungeness B.
Leaving aside the economic impact of prematurely closing the largest employer in the region, LAAG’s nuclear advisor, Large & Associates, has submitted evidence which proves that shutting down Dungeness B would not remove the risk to the public as the radiological hazard associated with heavy aircraft crashing onto the nuclear site remains for decades after the power stations cease operation.
This means it would be unsafe for the Secretaries of State to determine these planning applications until after the advisory panel has reached its conclusions and the ONR has provided a detailed response to all the evidence submitted. The regulator has a mandate to err on the side of caution in situations where the probability of the event is uncertain and the outcome extreme. Therefore, unless the ONR can prove that the public would not be placed at risk by the proposed expansion of Lydd Airport, it has an obligation to object and the Secretaries of State have no choice but to oppose this planning application.
Lydd Airport Action Group
The Hook Madeira Road
Littlestone, TN28 8QX
01797 361 548
Notes to editors:
Notes to editors:
History of planning application and LAAG’s nuclear case
Airport’s planning application was submitted to Shepway District
Council in December 2006 (Y06/1647/SH & Y06/1648/SH) for a 444m
extension to its runway and a new terminal to increase its passenger
numbers from < 3000 in 2005 to 500,000 passengers per annum
(ppa). (Note in 2011 there were ~500 passengers). This planning
application represents Phase1 of the airport’s Master Plan
objective to increase passenger numbers to 2million passengers per
rounds of supplementary environmental information were submitted
between December 2006 and January 2010 as the information provided
in the original planning application was inadequate and incomplete.
Nuclear safety was addressed by LAAG throughout this consultation
process with the support of independent consultants.
District Council determined in
favour of the planning application on
March 3rd 2010.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)
announced a public inquiry in June 2010 because of the controversy
over: the unlawful nature of the Council’s decision, the adverse
impact the development would have on protected habitats which
surround the airport and the nuclear safety issues engendered by the
airport’s close proximity to the Dungeness nuclear power complex.
The Public Inquiry took place
between February 15th,
2011 and September 16th,
the 2011 public inquiry the following experts gave evidence
on behalf of LAAG on the causes and consequences of an aircraft
accident at the Dungeness nuclear complex and the inadequacy of the
Byrne model used to determine the probability of an accident: John
Large, Large & Associates, Dr David Pitfield, Transport Studies
Unit, Loughborough University, Malcolm Spaven, Spaven Consulting and
Mrs Trudy Auty, a consultant with over 25
years of industrial experience.
additional critique of the Byrne model in early 2012 by Dr Roberto
Trotta (Imperial College London) in response to the UK nuclear
industry failing to address accidental crash damage as part of its
European stress test (safety evaluation). This safety evaluation of
all European nuclear power plants was conducted in the wake of the
Fukushima accident. Crash damage was mandated as a parameter to be
addressed by the European Commission but not all countries,
including the UK, examined the hazard. The ONR’s UK report was
published on January 4th
2012. Dr Trotta’s critique was submitted to the Department for
Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for
Transport (DFT) on April 2, 2012 - the two government departments
responsible for determining the planning application. The
consultation on Dr Trotta’s report and the new planning regime was
announced on April 24th,
2012. A further consultation was announced on May 31st
with all submission responses required by June 25, 2012.
The operator of Dungeness B, EDF/British Energy opposed Lydd Airport’s planning application because of the increase in the risk of an accident at Dungeness B caused by the introduction of heavy commercial aircraft taking of and landing at Lydd Airport.
runway extension will allow the commercial operation of large
aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 which weight over 70
tonnes fully loaded. Currently 99%
of activity (movements) at Lydd Airport is dominated by light
aircraft (aircraft weighing < 5.7tonnes)
airport is located on an ecologically sensitive site near Dungeness
on Romney Marsh, Kent.
The airport is surrounded by protected habitats and is particularly
renowned for birds - a major RSPB bird reserve is located between
Lydd Airport and the Dungeness nuclear power complex and the airport
is located under one of the main migratory bird routes in the south
terms of man made constraints, Lydd
Airport is located less than 3 miles from the Dungeness nuclear
complex and lies between two army ranges - Lydd Army Range <2
miles away at the southern end of the runway and Hythe Army Range ~
8 miles to the north. The Lydd Range has a 4000ft height
restriction and the Hythe Range 3200ft. The Dungeness nuclear
complex has a 2000ft height restriction and aircraft taking off and
landing from Lydd Airport are restricted to flying within 1.5nm of
the complex. As a result of these restrictions runway access is
restricted, there is an Instrument Landing System (ILS) only on one
runway and that ILS is 5 degrees offset. Lydd Airport is the only
civil airport in the UK with a 5 degree offset ILS.
If Lydd Airport’s development proceeds, no other
regional airport in Europe, and possibly the world, will be as close
to a nuclear power complex.
Airport is owned by Sheikh Fahad
LAAG is an action group formed in 2004 to oppose the large scale development of Lydd airport. LAAG has ~3000 active members.