Nuclear Power Stations

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Labour, Pontypridd

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

(1) what factors underlie the length of time scheduled for generic design assessment work on the three nuclear reactor designs identified as suitable for construction in the UK;

(2) if he will estimate the additional (a) staff and (b) resources required to enable the Health and Safety Executive and the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to complete the generic design assessment work on the three nuclear reactor designs for future construction in the UK in half the time presently scheduled.

Photo of Mike O'Brien Mike O'Brien Minister of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change

I have been asked to reply.

The factors affecting the length of time that generic design assessment will take are given at paragraph 24 of the joint guidance "New Nuclear Power Stations, Generic Design Assessment—A guide to the regulatory process"— published by HSE and the Environment Agency in August 2008. These include:

The content, quality and timeliness of the submissions;

The completeness of the design;

The introduction of design changes;

The significance of assessment issues arising;

The responsiveness of requesting parties to issues and questions;

The availability of resources to the regulators;

The ability to make best use of information from overseas nuclear regulators;

The number of designs being assessed in parallel; and

The experience of the regulators with similar reactor designs.

Given that resource is only one of these factors, the HSE does not believe that it is feasible for its Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) to complete GDA in half the time presently scheduled, irrespective of the numbers of staff or resources available.

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