We (The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency) developed the Generic Design Assessment process in response to a request from the Government following its 2006 Energy Review.
GDA includes continued engagement with nuclear reactor design companies, technical assessment work on their submissions, consultation with overseas regulators, a comments process and consultation and reviews of our own processes.
We will not issue permits for new nuclear power stations unless the design and its potential operators meet the high safety, security, environmental and waste management standards that we require.
The process has a number of steps, with the assessment getting increasingly detailed. We publish reports at the end of each step which provide an update on the assessment and highlight any concerns or technical issues that have been raised.
ONR carries out its assessment in three steps, while the Environment Agency's process consists of a preliminary and detailed assessment followed by a consultation. Additional steps can exist if, after we have completed our assessments, all the issues we have identified are not fully resolved. At the end of the process we will decide if the proposed designs are acceptable for use in the UK.
If we receive applications for development of new nuclear power stations at specific sites we will carefully consider those proposals and, take into account the work we have done on GDA, when making decisions about whether the proposals are acceptable.
Our guidance describes the process in detail.
Before a new nuclear reactor can be built and operated the operator must obtain a number of key site specific permissions from regulators and Government. These include a nuclear site licence and relevant consents from ONR, environmental permits from the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales and planning permission from the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s Secretary of State.
In both the licensing process and environmental permitting we also assess the capability of the operator and the potential impacts at the site.