Question: What Is The Meaning Of “cost-effective”

During the recent stage 2 consultation on Sizewell C run by EDF, the company expressed a desire to maximise the use of rail and marine transport options in order to minimise the quantities of freight delivered by road. The consultation document sets out various scenarios for rail and marine freight, and concludes that at least 60% (by weight) of the total materials required for construction could either be sourced from within the main development or delivered to the site by sea or rail. This would be better for the environment and for people living in the area.1

It goes on to say that the implementation of either a marine or rail maximised transport strategy would remove up to 250 HGV’s per day over the peak construction phase, and these estimates are used to calculate the number of lorries that are expected on the roads during construction. Whilst the reliance on rail and marine solutions is commendable, there is a caveat that they will only be used if they are considered to be “cost-effective”
The governments Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1) allows for this as it states:

“5.13.10 Water-borne or rail transport is preferred over road transport at all stages of the project, where cost-effective”.2

However there is no reference to any equation within the consultation document or the NPS EN-1 that demonstrates how the cost effectiveness is worked out.

To come to a decision of what is cost-effective in terms of transport when comparing road to rail, for example there must be some numerical value put on the differing factors such as environmental impact, cost per unit to move the freight, inconvenience to the local population of extra traffic on the road etc. Then a decision could be arrived at as to whether a method is cost effective.
It is also important to know to whom it needs to be cost-effective, because the taxpayer will pay a fixed strike price regardless of whether the freight is moved by road or rail and so using the most cost effective methods will increase the profits to EDF but will be of little benefit to the local population around Sizewell who may have to endure increased numbers of lorries on the road in order to achieve the cost effective solution.


1 Sizewell C Stage 2 Pre-Application Consultation (page 75), EDF, 2016 (http://sizewell.edfenergyconsultation.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/EDF_SZC_Stage2_ConsultationDoc_sfw.pdf)
2 Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1), Department of Energy and Climate Change, July 2011 (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/47854/1938-overarching-nps-for-energy-en1.pdf)

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