Energy firm EdF has received its recommendation for planning approval for its proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C.
But despite reaching this key milestone by the end of 2012 as planned, EdF has still refused to commit to building the plant.
It is to defer its final investment decision until the first quarter of next year although it had previously said it would make its final investment decision by the end of 2012 (NCE 18 November 2011).
The Planning Inspectorate has passed on its recommendation to energy secretary Ed Davey that Hinkley Point C is granted a development consent order (DCO) following a three month review period. Its recommendation will not be made public until Davey either decides to uphold or dispute the decision.
Davey has three months to decide whether to grant or refuse planning permission.
Once Hinkley Point C receives a DCO from the Planning Inspectorate it will have all the regulatory approvals to allow construction to begin.
The other remaining major regulatory hurdle was crossed last week, when the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) granted design approval for reactor firm Areva’s European Pressurised Reactor, following a five year licensing process known as the generic design assessment (GDA).
The GDA is a four step process that covers all areas of non site specific design from civil engineering to reactor chemistry.
The ONR granted an interim design acceptance certificate - mostly covering the civils works - through the GDA last December, with 31 outstanding issues.
Experts warned in July that slow progress in closing out the issues may prevent completion before the end of the year as intended (NCE 26 July 2012). But all 31 have now been resolved, and a full design acceptance certificate has been issued.