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ONR publishes updated guidance on site licensing

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has revised one of its key pieces of guidance, Licensing Nuclear Installations, which provides an overview of the nuclear regulatory regime and the processes for licensing and delicensing nuclear sites.

ONR periodically reviews and, where necessary, revises its published guidance to reflect changes in legislation or policy and to build upon learning from experience and good practice. Licensing Nuclear Installations replaces The licensing of nuclear installations issued in March 2007. The revised document takes account of the government’s National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation (2009) and recent changes in legislation, including the Energy Act (2008) and the Planning Act (2008).

It also sets out the factors that the regulator may take into account when reviewing a licence application, and refers to relevant technical assessment guidance. Licensing Nuclear Installations will inform ONR’s approach to assessing the application by NNB GenCo Ltd for a nuclear site licence at Hinkley Point C.

This guidance underlines that the granting of a nuclear site licence is a significant step but is not itself permission to start nuclear-related construction. That requires a regulatory permission under a licence condition, which is based on a substantial pre-construction safety case and a demonstration that the licensee has the organisational capability to lead and manage the site safely. What the granting of a nuclear site licence does provide is greater powers and tools to ONR, enabling it to ensure that a licensee’s future activities are supported by adequate safety cases and are subject to appropriate regulatory permission and oversight.