The Environment Agency, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) have announced that they are progressing to the next phase of their assessment of Rolls-Royce SMR’s 470MW small modular reactor (SMR) design. The assessment process for nuclear power plants is known as generic design assessment (GDA) and allows regulators to assess the safety, security, safeguards and environmental aspects of new reactor designs before site-specific proposals are brought forward. Step 1 of the GDA for Rolls-Royce’s SMRs started in April last year and has now been completed following preparatory work by Rolls-Royce SMR and the regulators. This has seen those involved agree the scope of the GDA based on the information supplied by Rolls-Royce SMR to the other parties so that the regulators could undertake a meaningful assessment of the design. Rolls-Royce SMR has completed all the requirements for Step 1 from the regulators’ guidance with good progress made in developing its organisation and arrangements to support GDA. Step 2 of the GDA process has now commenced and will see fundamental technical assessment take place. It is expected to last for 16 months. A comments process has also been launched by Rolls-Royce SMR on its website, enabling anyone to submit comments and questions on the design. The company will then respond to the questions and any relevant issues that arise during the process will help inform the regulators’ assessments throughout the rest of the GDA process. In December 2022, Rolls-Royce SMR announced three potential locations for its SMR factory. These are the International Advanced Manufacturing Park on Sunderland and South Tyneside, Teesworks on Teesside and Gateway on Deeside. A final decision is expected shortly.

As For The Location of The SMRs Themselves.

Rolls-Royce has prioritised Wylfa Newydd, Trawsfynydd, Oldbury and Sellafield as potential sites. In January, representatives visited potential locations around Oldbury and Berkeley in the South West of England and had constructive meetings with stakeholders there. Meanwhile another SMR startup, Newcleo, has raised £900M to kick-start its entry into the market. Environment Agency strategy and policy lead for Rolls-Royce SMR GDA Andrew Pynn said: “We’re assessing the environmental acceptability of a new reactor design from Rolls-Royce SMR. Our team of specialist assessors will identify any issues or concerns we have with the design and will work with the company to make sure it understands our expectations to ensure the protection of communities and the environment. “GDA is an enabling and efficient approach, helping to ensure that new nuclear power stations will meet high standards of safety, security, environmental protection and waste management. “During Step 1 we’ve studied the company’s arrangements, plans and readiness for Step 2 and learnt more about the reactor design. In our Step 1 statement we’ve summarised what we have looked at and concluded that we can progress to Step 2 of GDA where we will begin our fundamental assessment. “Public and stakeholder engagement is important to us. We’re encouraging people to get involved in the comments process, which begins today, by reviewing the information on the company’s website and providing your comments which are viewed by the regulators. “We’ll be engaging continually with stakeholders and public and we will carry out a consultation as we step through the regulatory process.” ONR head of GDA Rob Exley said: “The purpose of GDA is to determine whether the design meets our robust safety, security, safeguards and environmental protection standards in Great Britain. “We are working together with the Environment Agency and NRW to ensure Rolls-Royce SMR understand and meet our regulatory expectations for its proposed reactor design. “As nuclear regulators, we recognise that we are acting in the interests of the public and, as such, this period of scrutiny will be open, transparent and provide regular opportunities for meaningful engagement with interested parties throughout the GDA process. “ONR is satisfied that Rolls-Royce SMR has adequate arrangements to support GDA. We have agreed an appropriate scope for GDA, for which the company has provided an appropriate submission schedule and a resourced organisation to deliver it. “As regulators, we can now begin our technical assessment phase. Based on our work during Step 1, the generic Rolls-Royce SMR design can proceed to Step 2 of the GDA.” Natural Resources Wales radioactivity and industry policy team leader Paul Gibson said: “We are working closely with the Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Regulation as part of the process to determine the acceptability of the Rolls-Royce SMR design which potentially could be sited in Wales.”