Q: What do we know about the environmental impact of this development?

A: UKAEA are committed to the enhancement of biodiversity. As part of the planning process, the UKAEA will undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment. During the scoping phase, there will be a consultation process to ensure that all relevant aspects are covered. This assessment will evaluate the likely environmental impacts of the proposed project, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts.

The environment and wildlife will be at the forefront of any considerations in this process. As part of the engagement with the local community and stakeholders, their views on how best to protect the local environment will be welcomed.

Q: As Ardeer is known to be one of the most important biodiversity sites in North Ayrshire and is thought by entomologists to be the best site in Scotland for bees and wasps, how is it proposed to protect the mobile and fixed dune and dune heath habitats which are vital for these species?

A: The initial site nomination offered 3 locations all of which avoided the ecologically sensitive Bogside Flats SSSI as identified on the NatureScot website.

If Ardeer is successful, the UKAEA will undertake a Section 36 application (Planning) to the Scottish Government. This will require to be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment due to the scale of the development. UKAEA will consult with statutory and local bodies during the EIA Scoping process to ensure that all relevant ecological aspects are considered. There will also be opportunity for informal consultation through UKAEA events.

The ecological survey works undertaken will not only be used for Planning but also to assist in the design to minimise any impact. The nominating consortium of University of Glasgow, NPL and North Ayrshire Council have consistently noted the biodiversity importance of Ardeer in information shared with UKAEA and UKAEA recognise the importance of such in their selection process.

We and the Scottish Government in the Planning process will take a balanced approach, that takes account of many factors. This includes any impacts on ecology and biodiversity of the area, as well as the socio-economic benefits of STEP. STEP potentially offers an opportunity for this and future generations to address challenges like high levels of child poverty, an enduring issue in the area, and fuel poverty, and to create a true well-being economy.

Ardeer is Scotland’s largest brownfield site, and the owners are offering UKAEA some flexibility on siting within the peninsula to further minimise any impact.

Q: Will the site rely on traditional energy sources until it is functional, and to generate plasma? Will this be accounted for in Carbon budgeting?

A: Almost 100% of the South of Scotland’s energy comes from renewable sources. Although the detail is not yet known, we anticipate that the project will be powered by renewables from the outset.

North Ayrshire Council as the host Local Authority is deeply committed to carbon reduction with ambitious targets of being net zero by 2030, having declared a climate emergency in 2019. This means we will work with the STEP team to ensure the greenest possible approach to construction and operations is taken.