The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has today announced that it has granted a nuclear site licence for generating company EDF to install and operate its 3.2GW nuclear power station at Sizewell C in Suffolk.

The decision was made following an assessment of the nuclear site licence application made by Sizewell C Ltd, EDF’s applicant body.  The supervising authority concluded that the application has met all the requirements set out in regulatory guidance.

Today’s move follows grants of a development consent order in January by East Suffolk district and Suffolk County councils.

Last September, the government, Sizewell C and EDF launched an equity raise process to attract private investors into the project. While triggering the DCO and entering the construction phase is not dependent on a final investment decision, discussions with potential investors are ongoing and a final investment decision is expected later in 2024.

In its initial assessment in 2022 the ONR identified two matters requiring resolution before a licence could be granted. They related to the shareholders’ agreement and ownership of land at the site. Both snags have now been resolved to ONR’s satisfaction.

In addition, the regulator has concluded that progress made since 2022, relating to both Sizewell C Ltd’s organisation and the suitability of the proposed site, do not undermine ONR’s other findings from the earlier nuclear site licence assessment.

Although the granting of a site licence is a significant step, it does not permit the start of nuclear-related construction on the site.

ONR’s regulatory responsibility starts at the point of granting of a nuclear site licence. Now granted, it is able to use the powers within that  licence to require Sizewell C Ltd to request our permission for starting nuclear-related construction.

Similarly, the licensee is required to seek ONR’s  permission to proceed to subsequent key construction and commissioning stages up to the start of commercial operation and beyond.

Mark Foy, the ONR’s chief executive & chief nuclear inspector, said: “I am pleased to confirm that following extensive engagement and review by the ONR team, our assessment of the Sizewell C application is complete and a nuclear site has been licence granted.

“The licensing process is fundamental in confirming that operators of a nuclear site are ready and able to meet their obligations under the nuclear site licence, to protect their workforce and the public.

“The granting of this licence is one step in ONR’s process, allowing us to provide greater regulatory oversight, advice and challenge to the licensee as they progress their plans.

“We will continue working with Sizewell C to ensure that the highest levels of quality, safety and security are met.”

By commencing formal construction, a £250m package of funding for the local community will become available during the construction phase of the project, including £23m for community projects, £100m for the environment, £12m to support local tourism, and a £12m housing fund.


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