New nuclear power: assessing power station designs
- Environment Agency, Office for Nuclear Regulation, and Natural Resources Wales
- Part of:
- Low carbon technologies, Energy industry and infrastructure licensing and regulation, Radioactive and nuclear substances and waste, Business and the environment, Low carbon energy, and Nuclear regulation
- 3 October 2014
- Last updated:
- 18 July 2017, see all updates
Documents explaining why and how regulators are assessing designs of new nuclear power stations and how to get involved.
About generic design assessment (GDA)
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.
The comments process
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.
Generic design assessment: General Nuclear System Ltd’s UK HPR1000
Government requested that the regulators begin assessments of General Nuclear System Ltd’s UK HPR1000. Regulators began preparatory step 1 in January 2017.
Generic design assessment: EDF/Areva’s UK EPR™
Generic design assessment: UK EPR nuclear reactor design by AREVA NP SAS and Electricite de France SA
Generic design assessment: UK EPR nuclear power plant design by AREVA NP SAS and Electricite de France SA consultation documents
Generic design assessment: Hitachi-GE’s UK ABWR
Regulators began assessments of Hitachi-GE’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) design in January 2014. Horizon Nuclear Power propose to construct UK ABWRs at Wylfa and Oldbury. Other developers could similarly propose to build a new nuclear power station based on the UK ABWR design at another UK site.
The comments process opened in January 2014. It continues throughout this GDA until 15 August 2017, around four months before the regulators make their decisions on the acceptability of the UK ABWR.
You can make a comment or ask a question about this design on the Hitachi-GE website.
- Closed consultation
- Research and analysis
- Corporate report
Generic design assessment: Westinghouse Electric Company's AP1000®
In March 2017 the regulators completed their GDA of Westinghouse Electric Company’s AP1000® nuclear power station design that NuGEN propose to build at Moorside, Cumbria. They concluded that the design would be acceptable if built in the UK.
Published: 3 October 2014
Updated: 18 July 2017
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- New publication. GDA decisions: AP1000 nuclear power station design by Westinghouse Electric Company.
- Link added to new consultation plan: GDA of Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor.
- Link to new report - Discharges from boiling water reactors: a review of available discharge data.
- New document added - New nuclear power stations: about generic design assessment
- First published.