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International regulators workshop on Small Modular Reactors

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) hosted an international workshop to share insight into the UK regulatory processes for the assessment and licensing of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and the wider new reactor field.

Led by ONR alongside the Environment Agency and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), regulators delivered the virtual event to more than 80 delegates from nuclear regulatory organisations in Ukraine, Slovakia, Netherlands, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

The session offered guidance on ONR’s Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process for new reactors designs and ways to promote opportunities for better collaboration between fellow international regulators.

Speakers described how ONR’s licensing and permissioning, Environment Agency permits and the Planning Inspectorate’s development consent processes are structured and delivered in the UK.

Delegates were then invited to explore potential areas for future cooperation on SMR licensing  with discussions about how to take this forward in the future.

Speaking after the event, Mark Foy, ONR’s Chief Executive and Chief Nuclear Inspector, said: “Coming together to consider how we can better collaborate with fellow national regulators provided a real opportunity to explore how we can jointly streamline our assessment and licensing processes for new reactor technologies.

“Workshops such as these are a positive step in sharing understanding, enabling us to better deliver regulation of new nuclear, through more efficient, but still rigorous, processes that ensure the safety and security of nuclear power plants.

“We will continue to work with domestic and international regulatory colleagues and UK government to explore the art of the possible, including the mechanisms and shape of future international regulatory collaboration.”

Rob Exley, ONR’s Head of Rolls-Royce SMR Generic Design Assessment, said: “The workshop was a hugely positive step for all the interested parties who are committed to working together to support timely and efficient SMR deployment while maintaining focus on safety and environmental protection.

“There is great potential to develop ongoing and future cooperation between international regulators on reactor technologies of common interest. We are confident the UK has a lot to offer, as well as a lot to gain, from these collaborative activities.”