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Nuclear site licensing

In order to assure the safety of nuclear installations in the UK, we work on a system of regulatory control based on a robust licensing process by which a corporate body is granted a licence to use a site for specified activities.

The nuclear site licence granted by us is a legal document, issued for the full life cycle of the facility. It contains site-specific information, such as the licensee's address and the location of the site, and defines the number and type of installations permitted. Such installations include nuclear power stations, research reactors, nuclear fuel manufacturing and reprocessing, and the storage of radioactive matter in bulk.

A set of 36 Standard Conditions, covering design, construction, operation and decommissioning, is also attached to each licence. These conditions require licensees to implement adequate arrangements to ensure compliance.

They are set out in our licence condition handbook.

ONR's guide to 'Licensing Nuclear Installations'

This guide provides an overview of the nuclear regulatory regime and the processes for licensing and delicensing nuclear sites. It has been revised to reflect recent legal changes, as a result of the introduction of new legislation and to include reference to updated processes and procedures.

It explains how and why we license prescribed nuclear sites. It covers the entire facility life cycle, from the licensing of the new sites through the relicensing of the existing sites to the final delicensing of sites where facilities have been decommissioned and there is no risk to the public. As such, it describes an important and fundamental part of our regulatory work.

UK implementation of Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom amending Directive 2009/71/Euratom establishing a Community framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations

Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom was formally adopted by the Council of the European Union 08 July 2014. Member States were required to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the amended Nuclear Safety Directive (NSD) by 15 August 2017. We have written to all licensees to inform them that the UK has now implemented the directive.


The first NSD was to include international principles for nuclear safety in the EU Regulatory regime. The nuclear stress tests carried out in 2011 and 2012, lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear accident, and the safety requirements of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association and the International Atomic Energy Agency, caused the European Commission (EC) to a re-assess the effectiveness of the EC’s nuclear safety framework. The EC took advice from ENSREG and subsequently brought forward proposals for a further directive.  On 8 July 2014 Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom was formally adopted by the council of the European Union.

First Nuclear Safety Directive

Consultation on ONR's revised interpretation of 'bulk quantities' in the context of licensing nuclear installations for storage and disposal of radioactive matter 

Amendments to licence conditions

Updates on changes to licence condition 1 and 3

In October 2014, we issued variations to most nuclear site licences to introduce changes to LC3 and definitions in LC1. The principal feature of the new LC3 is that it allows for categorisation of property transactions, according to nuclear safety significance and impact on licensee control, and allows licensees to approve low-risk transactions under their own arrangements. This helps ensure proportionate regulation and makes LC3 more consistent with other licence conditions (LCs 22, 28 and 36). Changes to LC1 include a new definition for 'property transaction' which is used in LC3.

We have also modified the definition of 'radioactive material' in LC1 which is linked to the definition provided by the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 (in England and Wales). When these Regulations were amended in 2011, previous exemption orders were included in Schedule 23 of the regulations resulting in possible exclusion of material such as radioactive contaminated land which we believe should be covered by nuclear safety regulation. The slightly modified definition provides clarification with respect to paragraph 9 of Schedule 23 to EPR 2010 and Section 1G of the Radioactive Substances Act1993, given in section 1A of that Act.

This change does not alter our regulatory approach and maintains our position before amendments were made to relevant environmental legislation.

Interpreting bulk quantities - Licensability of storage of radioactive matter

Between September and December 2011, and again between June and July 2012 we consulted on our proposed approach to interpreting "bulk quantities" of radioactive matter for the purposes of determining which installations designed or adapted for the storage of radioactive matter require a nuclear site licence under Section 1 of the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (NIA) and the Nuclear Installations Regulations 1971 (NIR). Taking the results of these consultations into account, we published our position statement in December 2012. The key feature of the position is that we will interpret "bulk quantities" as a quantity of radioactive material equal to or exceeding 100 times the values set out in Schedule 2 of the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR 2001).

We are currently working to revise our interpretation of "bulk quantities" in relation to storage of radioactive matter because REPPIR 2001 has been replaced by REPPIR 2019.