The project

Drax Power Ltd is proposing to modify up to two of the coal-fired generating units (known as Units 5 and 6) at Drax Power Station, near the town of Selby, North Yorkshire to become gas-powered generating plant.

The proposed development is a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) under “the construction or extension of a generating station” category in Part 3 Sections 14(1)(a) and 15(2) of the Planning Act 2008 (as amended). As such, Drax is required to seek planning permission through the Planning Inspectorate (PINS). After assessing the project’s planning application, PINS makes a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who decides if the Development Consent Order (DCO) can be granted.

The proposed project comprises up to four new gas turbines (up to two for Unit 5 and up to two for Unit 6), each powering a dedicated generator of up to 600 megawatts (MW) in capacity. Each unit would provide steam to the existing steam turbine for that unit which would generate up to 600MW per unit. Once re-powered, Unit 5 would have a gross electrical output capacity of up to 1,800 megawatts and Unit 6 would have a gross electrical output capacity of up to 1,800 megawatts. The repowered units would have a new combined capacity of up to 3,600MW or 3.6 gigawatts (GW).

It is also proposed to construct up to two battery storage facilities, one per generating unit and each up to 100MW.

At this early stage in the planning process these figures represent the maximum parameters of the project.

The proposal includes associated development:

  • A new gas connection, entering the eastern side of the existing power station
  • An electrical connection into the 400 kilovolt (kV) substation from the repowered unit(s) would allow for electricity to be distributed into the National Grid.

Drax has begun consulting on these options with local communities and national stakeholders.

Why repower?

Drax Power Station is a national asset and a significant driver of economic growth in the North of England.

Plans for gas at Drax Power Station were announced in June 2017, are part of an ongoing research and development project and are part of Drax’s strategy to play a vital role in changing the way energy is generated as the UK moves to a low carbon future. These options could repurpose up to two of our coal assets and extend their operation into the 2030s.

The options could create up to 3.6GW of new gas generation capacity and 200MW of battery storage. They are subject to a positive investment decision and would need to be underpinned by a 15-year capacity market contract.

The upgrade would enhance Drax Power Station’s flexible and responsive capability, and make Yorkshire home to large scale battery technology.

These options would, if developed, increase Drax’s ability to provide the flexible generation and grid support services Britain’s electricity system will need as coal and other large power stations are turned off.

The options for repowering to gas and building battery storage complement Drax’s ongoing work to explore options for further generation from sustainable biomass. Three former coal units have already been successfully upgraded, on-time and on-budget, to use biomass in the form of compressed wood pellets. They account for 70% of the electricity Drax produces – enough to power Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool and 16% of the UK’s total renewable power.

Consulting our community

We have always supported and worked with our local communities and want to ensure they have a role in shaping our thinking. We are undertaking a comprehensive programme of local consultation and engagement to share our options with the public and listen to their views.

In September 2017, various local stakeholders received a Scoping Report from the Planning Inspectorate with details about the project, including its location, potential size, associated development and the impacts that will need to be carefully considered before a planning application can be submitted. The planning process requires us to consult on the maximum amount of power capacity we could require but this does not mean we will ultimately build that level of capacity.

A series of technical and environmental studies have also been carried out.

We are now undertaking a comprehensive two-phase programme of consultation with county, district and parish councils, a range of statutory organisations and the communities in the local area.

Community engagement in autumn 2017

One of the informal consultation drop-in sessions, 8 November 2017, Selby Town Hall

A number of drop-in sessions were held in early November 2017 in Selby, Drax and Goole, where members of the local community had a chance to find out more and speak with members of the Drax Repower team.

If you were unable to attend the drop-in sessions, exhibition materials can be found in Documents.

Online and postal feedback forms were also made available until 30 November. Responses received allowed us to be informed about any issues that people living and working within the local area felt that we needed to consider before moving to the next stage of the planning process and the formal round of statutory consultation.

Community engagement in early 2018

The formal round of statutory consultation about the project is being held in January and February 2018. We presented more detailed information about the project, including our Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR). This report sets out our preliminary findings regarding environmental effects. Your feedback will be used to inform the Environmental Impact Assessment and project design.

The following public exhibitions were held in the local area

  • Selby Town Hall, York Street, Selby, YO8 4AH – Saturday 20th January 2018 (10am – 4pm)
  • Drax Sports and Social Club, Main Road, Drax, Selby, YO8 8PJ – Tuesday 23rd January 2018 (3pm – 8pm)
  • Junction, 2 Paradise Place, Goole, DN14 5DL – Wednesday 24th January 2018 (2pm – 7pm)
  • Selby Town Hall, York Street Selby, YO8 4AJ – Thursday 1st February (10am – 4pm)
  • Hemingbrough Methodist Church Hall, 2 Main Street, Hemingbrough, YO8 6QE – Friday 2nd February (9.30am – 1.30pm)

We widely publicised the details of the formal consultation in advance, via this website, direct mail, social media and the local news media.

If you were unable to attend the drop-in sessions, exhibition materials can be found in Documents.

Sharing your views

We welcome your views on the proposed Repower Project and in particular on:

  • The two gas pipeline route options and whether you have any concerns over the routes identified. You can see the two options in the consultation materials.
  • The findings of the preliminary assessment of the likely effects of the project during its construction and its operation, as set out in the PEIR.

You can share your views with us in a number of ways:

Please provide your feedback to Drax on or before 5pm on 27 February 2018.

Contact us

Email us

DraxRepower@drax.com

Call us

0800 731 8250

Write to us:

FREEPOST DRAX REPOWER

(address must be written in BLOCK CAPITAL LETTERS)

News

7 February 2018 - Public exhibitions about Drax Repower held, consultation period remains open until 27th February

11 January 2018 - More local events to discuss gas and battery project

Journalist with a question? Contact the Drax media team:

 Ali Lewis Jessica Gorton
 Head of News Press Officer
 +441757 612165 +441757 612848
 +447712677177
 ali.lewis@drax.com jessica.gorton@drax.com
Documents

2 February 2018 - Drax Repower statutory consultation exhibition boards

20 January 2018 - Drax Repower project 3D model animation

16 January 2018 - Drax Repower project overview report

16 January 2018 - Drax preliminary environmental information report - non technical summary

16 January 2018 - Drax preliminary environmental information report volume 1 - main report

16 January 2018 - Drax preliminary environmental information report volume 2 - figures

16 January 2018 - Drax preliminary environmental information report volume 3 - appendices

5 January 2018 - Online feedback form

5 January 2018 - Statutory consultation leaflet

2 January 2018 - Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) The Planning Act 2008 (Section 47)

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Our plans

Q1. Why do we want/need to build a gas-fired power station at Drax?

A1. Plans for gas at Drax Power Station were announced in June 2017 as an ongoing research and development project and are part of Drax’s strategy to play a vital role in changing the way energy is generated as the UK moves to a low carbon future. These options could repurpose up to two of our coal assets and extend their operation into the 2030s.

The options could create up to 3.6GW of new gas generation capacity and, subject to technical and commercial considerations, 200MW of battery storage. They are subject to a positive investment decision and would need to be underpinned by a 15-year capacity market contract.

The upgrade would enhance Drax Power Station’s flexible and responsive capability, and make Yorkshire home to large scale battery technology.

These options would, if developed, increase Drax’s ability to provide the flexible generation and grid support services Britain’s electricity system will need as coal and other large power stations are turned off.

Q2. Why doesn’t Drax convert Units 5 and 6 to run on biomass?

A2. At Drax we’ve converted half of the power station to biomass, the only flexible, reliable renewable available at scale.

We believe repurposing existing assets will keep costs down and enable faster development, so the type of capacity needed will be available quickly and cost effectively.

Looking at coal-to-gas upgrades does not undermine our commitment to biomass generation at the plant and in the UK. We are investigating the feasibility of repowering to gas, this is in addition to the work we’re doing to look at options for repowering more units to biomass.

Q3. Where will Drax source the gas from?

A3. We will buy our gas from the UK market through the National Balancing Point (NBP) and it will be supplied via the National Grid. We would expect gas to come from the North Sea, a number of different European countries, the Middle East and further afield. And given this diversity of sources, we are confident that we will maintain a secure supply of gas. Part of the reason we’re exploring gas as an option is that it provides an opportunity to use existing infrastructure to keep costs down – that includes access to a relatively close, existing gas pipeline to the south of Drax, from which we will buy gas from the UK market.

Planning & consultation

Q1. When does Drax expect to submit a Development Consent Order (DCO) application- and a decision?

A1. We are aiming to submit an application for a Development Consent Order in the second quarter of this year (2018), subject to feedback from our local authorities, our local communities, the Planning Inspectorate, and our planning, engineering and environmental assessment work. Following our submission there are a number of steps in the process including:

  • The acceptance of our application for examination by the Planning Inspectorate
  • An examination period, which registered parties will be able to take part in.
  • The submission of a recommendation by the Examining Authority to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • A decision from the Secretary of State at BEIS, likely to be in the summer/autumn 2019.

Q2. When could the Drax Repower project enter operation?

A2. We could expect to see the project generating electricity during 2022/23.

Q3. How are Drax consulting local people?

A2. We are undertaking two phases of local consultation.  The objectives of the “informal” first phase (held in November) had been to introduce the project and gather people’s initial comments and feedback.

The second phase, a period of Statutory Consultation, started on January 16th and end on February 27thOur plans for this have been published in a Statement of Community Consultation; an abbreviated version of this document was published in the Yorkshire Post on 2nd January 2018. We are also consulting Selby District Council, North Yorkshire County Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, local parish councils, landowners and a range of relevant statutory authorities.

Homes and businesses in the local area (as well as a range of statutory organisations) received a leaflet about the project and the statutory consultation process.

Q4.  Has Drax shared its plans with its employees and their trade unions?

A4.  Yes, we have explained to our people that we are looking at the feasibility of re-powering our coal units, and acknowledge the strategy that we are pursuing to transform Drax’s operations.  We will talk further with our people as the project moves forward.

Environmental Assessment

Q1. What steps will Drax take to preserve the local environment?

A1. Every effort will be made to minimise the project’s impact on the local environment, both during its construction and operation. Its design and the steps to mitigate its impacts is a part of the consultation and planning process.

Q2. What about the environmental impact of the new generating plant?

A2. A Preliminary Environmental Information (PEIR) report is being produced and an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) will be undertaken to assess the likely significant environmental effects of the project.  The PEIR will be a key part of the Statutory Consultation process to being held January and FebruaryThe PEIR will be made available on this website from January 16th (and will be available to view at local libraries and council offices).

The EIA process considers a range of issues including noise, air emissions, flood risk, local ecology, visual impact, heritage/archaeology and transport. The EIA forms a central part of the DCO application and must comply with national and local policies and guidelines. A full Environmental Statement will accompany the application for development consent.

Q3. What about the “cumulative impact” of having gas-fired power generation units at Drax and Eggborough?

A3. A cumulative impact assessment of both projects and other major operations and development in the area will be fully addressed in our application for development consent.

Q4. What is the footprint of the new generating plant? Will it be noisy? What height will the stacks be?  What about its visual impact?

A4. The development area for the proposed power plant and electricity substation lies within our existing site. There will be up to eight stacks in the power plant and they are likely to be up to 120m high, subject to further technical and environmental studies that we are carrying out. For comparison, the main stack of the existing coal-fired units is over 200m high.

Whilst local villages shouldn’t hear the new plant running, the noise produced during operation of the power plant will be strictly limited by the requirements of the Development Consent Order (similar to planning conditions) which will be enforced by the local authority and limits set by the Environment Agency (EA). These limits will comply with latest guidance and standards.

Noise modelling is being undertaken to ascertain the current background noise levels and the typical noise levels from a gas-fired plant will be modelled on top to determine the likely impacts. No significant effects are anticipated at this stage.

Emissions to air will be strictly monitored and regulated by the Environment Agency, through an Environmental Permit which is required for the plant’s operation.

The new generating plant will be predominantly situated within the Drax site and set against other features of the power station (such as the cooling towers, boiler house and biomass domes), thus minimising its visual impact..  The visual impact of the project will be part of the PEIR and EIA processes; we will have photomontages of the project to show people during the statutory consultation process.

Q5. Will there be an increase in road traffic?

A5. There will be Heavy Goods Vehicle traffic during construction. A construction management plan would in due course be prepared to manage HGV traffic going through local villages, which will minimise congestion, noise and dirt in the local area. Once operational, there will be a negligible increase in traffic movements.

Q6. Is it going to smell?

A6. The combustion of natural gas in a power station does not produce any noticeable odour.

Q7. Will there be any emissions from the power station?  Will the mix of emissions from your biomass units and the gas units be harmful?  

A7. A plume consisting mainly of water vapour may be visible from the stacks of the generating plant but only under certain atmospheric conditions (cold and dry with high pressure); this is not ‘smoke’. The emissions from the stacks will be strictly limited by the Environment Agency (EA) as part of an operational environmental permit, and will not have any significant effect on people or the environment.  The stacks will also emit some carbon dioxide (CO2).

Our PEIR considers the cumulative impact of the emissions from all our units.

Q8.  Is there an increasing risk of flooding in the area?  Will we carry out a risk assessment?

A8.  We believe that the existing flood defences are sufficient but this matter will be examined in our EIA work for the DCO application process.

Gas & Electricity connections

Q1. Where will the gas pipeline be routed?

A1. We are consulting on two possible routes for the underground gas pipeline (c3 km long to connect into the National Gas Transmission System) and before making a final decision we will take into account various factors including the views of the relevant landowners, environmental impacts, engineering considerations and planning constraints.  Whilst we will deploy an underground gas pipeline, there will be a need for “pig traps” (above ground points of access for maintenance equipment) and other above ground installation (but not regarded as intrusive); their proposed locations have not been finalised.

Where the gas pipeline is eventually routed, the land will be reinstated.

Q2. Will there be a need to build or upgrade the existing connection to the national transmission system?

A2. At this time, we are expecting to use Drax’s existing electricity connections and related grid infrastructure.  We may need to make some minor alterations to these but we do not expect there to be a need to erect additional transmission towers.

Local economic/community benefit

Q1. How will the power station benefit the local area?

A1. The proposed power station can bring a range of benefits to the area during both the construction and operational phases.  Construction will provide a large number of job opportunities.  The new plant is expected to have an operational life of up to 25 years so extending the life-time of the whole power station. For many years, Drax has made a major contribution to the local economy and is an active supporter of the local community; this major project will further strengthen that commitment. A detailed socio-economic impact study will be submitted as part of the DCO application (via the Environmental Statement).

Q2. How can local businesses get involved in the project?

Q2. Whilst we are still at an early stage in the project, businesses can register details with our Procurement team. In due course, subject to us securing the DCO and giving the project the “green light”, we will appoint a major Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to be the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor, who most likely will take the lead on sub-contracting elements of the project.

Q3. I’m local to the area and looking for work. How can I apply for a job?

A3. We publish vacancies on our website and via local and national employment agencies.

Timeline

January 2018 - Statutory Consultation begins

    February 2018 - Statutory Consultation ends

      February 2018 - Review responses received

        Spring 2018 - Detail of the project, including Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) finalised

          Spring 2018 - Submission of Development Consent Order (DCO) application

            Summer/autumn 2018 - Pre-examination period

              Autumn 2018 - Notice of preliminary meeting

                Autumn 2018 - Examination period begins