Written statement to Parliament

Regulatory Justification of the UK ABWR nuclear reactor

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Statement by Edward Davey on the regulatory justification of the UK ABWR nuclear reactor.

I have today laid before the House a draft statutory instrument containing my decision, as Justifying Authority under the Justification of Practices Involving Ionising Radiation Regulations 2004, that the generation of electricity from the nuclear reactor design known as the UK ABWR is Justified.

Justification is the first step in the regulatory process for practices involving ionising radiation and is required by EU law. Before any new practice involving ionising radiation (such as a new design of nuclear reactor) can be introduced in the UK, it must first undergo a high-level, generic assessment to determine whether its economic, social or other benefits outweigh the health detriment it may cause. As Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change I am the Justifying Authority and it is my responsibility to take these decisions. Positive Justification decisions are made by way of statutory instruments. The draft statutory instrument which I have today laid in draft before the House is supported by a decision document, copies of which have been deposited in the Libraries of the House.

The decision document sets out how I have considered responses to the public consultations carried out by my department, how I have assessed the benefit of the class or type of practice against the radiological health detriment it may cause, and how I have come to the decision that it is Justified.

In summary, the basis for my decision is that there is a clear need for the generation of electricity by the nuclear reactor design to which the decision relates, because of the contribution its deployment can make to the new nuclear programme through increased security of energy supplies and reduced carbon emissions. Against this, the radiological detriment to health from this nuclear reactor design throughout its lifetime and the management of associated waste will be low compared to overall levels of radiation, and will be effectively controlled by the UK’s robust and effective regulatory regime. I have therefore concluded that the reactor design should be Justified.

The draft statutory instrument containing the decision is subject to the affirmative resolution procedure and will therefore be the subject of debates in both Houses of Parliament.

Copies of a statement to this effect, and of the decision document, have been deposited in the Libraries of the House and are available on my department’s website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance-for-operators-of-new-nuclear-power-stations