Policy & regulation

Nuclear regulators have been asked by the government to the begin the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) for the reactor which will be used at the Bradwell B nuclear plant in Essex.

The power station is being developed by China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and EDF, which are also working together on the Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C plants.

“I have today asked the UK’s independent nuclear regulators, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, to begin a Generic Design Assessment of the UK HPR1000 reactor,” said business and energy minister Jesse Norman in a statement to the Commons.

As the cost of the assessment is borne by the applicants, Norman said the decision to apply for one “underlines the fact that international companies continue to view investment in the UK’s low-carbon energy future positively”.

CGN and EDF submitted an application to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through their joint venture, General Nuclear System, in October last year.

Also known as Hualong One, the reactor design was jointly developed by CGN and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). The reference plant for the assessment is the third unit at CGN’s Fangchenggang nuclear power station which is currently being built in China.

Managing director of nuclear new build at EDF Energy, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, said: “EDF will bring invaluable experience gained from the approval process for Hinkley Point C’s EPR reactors and from our continuing work with the UK’s independent regulators. Both EDF and CGN will also be listening carefully to the community around Bradwell before we draw up detailed proposals for the development of the new power station.”

Getting GDA approval for the reactor is a key step towards the development of the Bradwell B project, which is still in an “early pre-planning stage”. The GDA process itself will take a number of years to complete and a development consent order, site licensing and environmental permits will all need to be secured before the plant can be built. CGN and EDF said there will still be “years of investigative works and public consultations” before detailed proposals are produced and a planning application is submitted.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said in a statement: “ONR can confirm that the government has requested that we begin the Generic Design Assessment process for the UK HPR1000. The process will begin once the necessary agreements with the requesting party, General Nuclear System, have been put into place.”

EDF, CGN and the government signed the final agreement to build Hinkley Point C at a ceremony in London in September.

Last month the UK and Japanese governments strengthened their civil nuclear ties with the signing of a memorandum of cooperation in Tokyo.