New nuclear power: assessing power station designs
- Environment Agency, Office for Nuclear Regulation, and Natural Resources Wales
- Part of:
- Radioactive and nuclear substances and waste, Low carbon technologies, Energy industry and infrastructure licensing and regulation, Business and the environment, Low carbon energy, and Nuclear regulation
- First published:
- 3 October 2014
- Last updated:
- 1 November 2016, 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 UK government’s energy policy identifies that nuclear power could play a vital role alongside renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, in making sure that the UK has enough low-carbon electricity in the future.
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: 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.
You can make a comment or ask a question about this design on the Hitachi-GE website.
- Open consultation
- Research and analysis
- Corporate report
Generic design assessment: Westinghouse Electric Company's AP1000™
Regulators paused GDA of Westinghouse Electric Company’s AP1000™ in 2011, at the company’s request, after they had completed their planned assessments and identified 51 GDA Issues to be resolved. GDA recommenced in August 2014 and Westinghouse is now addressing these issues. NuGen propose to construct AP1000 reactors at Moorside, Cumbria.
You can make a comment or ask a question about this design on the Westinghouse website.
Published: 3 October 2014
Updated: 1 November 2016
- 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.