At Folkestone magistrates court on 15 March, British Energy pleaded guilty to operating a prescribed process without the authorisation, contrary to section 6(1) and 23(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It was ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.
Dungeness B maintains a number of diesel generators on site for essential services in the event of a power failure. In 1991, when the IPC regime was implemented, the company told inspectors that the aggregate capacity of the generators was below the 50MW threshold, and that it would not therefore need an authorisation.
Last summer, an Environment Agency officer discovered that British Energy had made an error: the capacity since 1991 had in fact been 51MW. Moreover, in December 1999 the capacity had increased to 62MW, but no authorisation had been sought.
Chris Lloyd, a nuclear inspector at the Agency, said that it was "very embarrassing" for British Energy to have overlooked basic legislative compliance for the plant, especially since similar plant at other sites was authorised.