A key focus this last quarter was on writing and publishing the summary and technical reports that were delivered at the end of HSE’s Step 3, on 27 November 2009, and then in preparing detailed plans for Step 4. This took significant effort from the HSE team and led to a temporary reduction in effort applied to the assessment process. The focus is now on the detailed assessment of Step 4 and we expect the pace of our work to accelerate rapidly over the next few months.
The Environment Agency’s assessment is also progressing well and a consultation on the findings is planned to start in May 2010. HSE will provide additional assessment advice as an important input to that consultation.
HSE resources are in good shape overall and our assessment team is almost at full strength, although having to deal at present with key sickness absences. In addition, the Technical Support Contract framework that we have put in place is working well and is supplementing our own specialists and ensuring that we will continue to progress rapidly. This is now putting additional strain on the Requesting Parties (RPs) to gear up to respond to our requests for information. Resources for both the regulators and the RPs will continue to be a key challenge throughout GDA Step 4, as the volume of work and technical issues that need to be tackled is challenging.
The HSE Step 3 reports did identify that there are a number of significant technical issues that remain to be addressed and further developments on some of these are discussed in this quarterly progress report. However, we remain confident that both designs will be able to be shown to be acceptable in the UK, subject to satisfactory progress being made on the technical issues we have raised.
You can read the full report here.