I am today making a statement to the House to let Hon Members know that I have asked the UK’s independent nuclear regulators, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, to conduct a Generic Design Assessment of the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR).
This is the nuclear reactor design by Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd which Horizon Nuclear Power intend to use in the new nuclear power stations which they propose to build at Wylfa in Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire.
In October I welcomed Hitachi’s purchase of Horizon Nuclear Power and the confirmation that it intended to proceed with Horizon’s investment in Wylfa and Oldbury. This showed the willingness of international companies to invest in the UK’s low-carbon energy future and the confidence of the market in the Government’s proposals on regulatory reform of the electricity market.
The Government welcomes all such investment. However, the nuclear industry in the UK is rightly subject to a regulatory regime to ensure safety, security and mitigation of any potential environmental detriment. Generic Design Assessment is now an established feature of our regulatory regime, and, as I told the House in December after the completion of the GDA process for the AREVA European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR), it has shown itself to be an excellent process for rigorous and transparent nuclear regulation.
I am therefore pleased to be asking the regulators to assess the ABWR through GDA. The application is an exceptional one. It is an application for GDA of a reactor design which has already been in operation elsewhere in the world. And it follows the purchase by the vendor and designer of the intended operator of two sites which have been determined in the Nuclear National Policy Statement as potentially suitable for the deployment of new nuclear power stations, and the purchase of the sites themselves.
I therefore think we are right to conduct a separate exercise for this design. This does not rule out a further round of GDA covering other reactor designs which might be built in the UK and we intend to hold such a round at a future date to be determined by market developments and regulatory resources.
As with previous such assessments, the full cost of GDA will be charged to the Requesting Party which submits the design for assessment.