Herbert Smith advises as EDF eyes nuclear power station in Somerset

Herbert Smith has advised long time client EDF Energy on its application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) for development consent to construct and operate a 3.2GW nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The application was submitted on 31 October under the Planning Act 2008. The application will now be examined by the IPC, which is expected to take a year to make its decision. Once operational, the Somerset power station would provide around 6 per cent of the UK’s electricity.

The Herbert Smith team, which advised EDF on all the legal issues surrounding the application, was led by partner Matthew White. Planning partner Clare Fielding, corporate partner Julia Pyke and public law partner Nusrat Zar also advised. Senior associate Catherine Howard was seconded to EDF during the application process

Herbert Smith has been advising EDF on its nuclear plans since 2006. The Hinkley Point project will be the first new nuclear site to be developed in the UK.

In a statement, White said: “It’s been a phenomenal team effort over a number of years by EDF Energy to prepare an application of this complexity. We’ve advised on several unprecedented legal issues in dealing with the new and untested national planning regime for projects of this size. The IPC’s acceptance of the application is therefore a major milestone for the future of nuclear energy in the UK.”

Herbert Smith also helped EDF secure the first consent to be granted by the UPC under section 53 of the 2008 Act to allow compulsory access to land, so that surveys could be carried out.

The firm is also advising EDF on its applications for consent from West Somerset Council and the Marine Management Organisation for preliminary works on the Hinkley site, as well as in negotiating a planning agreement for the first stages of the project.