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Interim decision taken on Hunterston DEPZ

Posted on 21 May 2020

The boundary for the Detailed Emergency Planning Zone (DEPZ) around Hunterston B Nuclear Power Station is to remain unchanged in the interim before a final decision is made later this year.

The size and shape of the DEPZ around the site was previously determined by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) before the introduction of new legislation last year, called REPPIR - Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information).

This legislation transferred that power to local authorities.

North Ayrshire Council was scheduled to consider the DEPZ at its March meeting of Full Council, but this was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The REPPIR Regulations require the Council to determine the DEPZ boundary by 21 May, 2020, and although North Ayrshire Council asked for extension due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Council was asked to meet the existing deadline. As such, following consultation with elected members, Council Chief Executive Craig Hatton has decided to retain the current boundary for an interim period pending final determination by Council later this year.

This means that the boundary of the DEPZ for Hunterston B will remain 2.4km until the matter can be fully considered at the first Council meeting after 1 December, 2020

Mr Hatton said “Clearly, this was a decision which I had hoped would be considered by Elected Members however, that has not been possible during the current pandemic and in the timescale presented to us.

“By retaining the status quo in the meantime, it will allow us to meet our statutory obligations while allowing members to consider the issue fully and make an informed decision up on the extent of the DEPZ in public later this year.”

It is expected that the decision will be brought back to Council for a final determination in December 2020.

The DEPZ is the area close to the site where protective countermeasures - such as sheltering, taking stable iodine tablets and evacuation - are to be applied in the event of an off-site release from Hunterston B. 

Every household currently within the DEPZ will continue to receive information and pre-distributed stable iodine tablets to allow them to be prepared in the unlikely event of an offsite release of radiation.

The risk rating for the Hunterston site has not altered.