The government has outlined its commitment to new nuclear developments in the UK. Its energy policy states that nuclear power, together with gas and renewable energy such as wind and solar power, will help meet the country’s energy needs in the future. It will also meet its commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
As regulators of the nuclear industry, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales (NRW), are working together to ensure that any new nuclear power stations built in the UK meet high standards of safety, security, environmental protection and waste management.
The ONR and the Environment Agency have developed an assessment process called ‘GDA’, which enables them to scrutinise new nuclear power station designs before they are built. It means they can identify any potential design or technical issues early and ask the reactor designer to address them.
At the end of the GDA process the regulators issue reports on their findings along with the supporting technical assessment reports. If the reactor design is judged to be acceptable then ONR would issue a ‘design acceptance confirmation’ (DAC) and the Environment Agency and NRW would issue a ‘statement of design acceptability’ (SoDA).
A DAC or SoDA confirms the regulators consider a power station based on the design could be built and operated at a site in the UK. But before that could happen the site operator would need to apply for and obtain site specific environmental, safety, security, planning and other approvals. When making decisions about site specific permit applications the regulators will take account of all the work done during GDA.
The GDA process is open and transparent and there are a number of ways to get involved.
Any nuclear power station design company going through GDA is required to set up a website, publish information about the design and invite comments and questions about it. You can make a comment or ask a question and the design company will respond to you.
The Environment Agency in England and NRW in Wales will consult on their preliminary findings from detailed assessment during the GDA process.
The nuclear regulators worked with Sciencewise to understand how the public want to be engaged and consulted about assessment of new nuclear power station designs.
Meetings and events
You can talk to the Environment Agency at Site Stakeholder Groups, Local Community Liaison Councils and public events.
Infographics to explain nuclear regulation
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