Thank you for contacting me about nuclear power. I appreciate your strength of feeling on this issue.
In the UK, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is the independent statutory body with responsibility for regulating the nuclear industry. The ONR regulates safety, security, safeguards and the transport of radioactive materials. As the ONR is a Public Corporation it is outside of Government and has increased ability to address the regulatory demands of a growing nuclear industry.
The ONR considers nuclear site licence applications and related regulatory matters on a case-by-case basis. In order to ensure the impact of climate change and the adequacy of project specific mitigations are fully and properly considered, the ONR does not prescribe thresholds in advance. The regulator requires appropriate safety margins and considers the latest official climate change predictions, prepared with the Meteorological Office and the Environment Agency.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the ONR has continued to conduct urgent and essential regulatory inspections on nuclear power stations, including Hinkley Point C.
On nuclear waste, in December 2018 the Government launched a new siting progress to identify a suitable location in which to construct a geological disposal facility. This is a consent-based process that is looking to identify both a willing host community as well as a location with the suitable geology in which to construct such a geological disposal facility
You mention module reactors, such as those being developed by Rolls-Royce, however I hope I can reassure you that a Generic Design Assessment must be carried out on all small reactors. This regulatory process assesses the safety, security and environmental aspects of a new nuclear reactor design.
Finally, on the issue of cost, new nuclear projects in the UK are developer-led and it is for developers to decide whether or not to pursue building a nuclear power plant at a specific site. I understand the Government assesses all development applications to ensure the best deal for the taxpayer.
Total funding in the Nuclear Sector Deal from both the Government and industry is £204 million, of which £172 million is from the Government. Publicly committed Government funds to date are approximately £113 million, with further announcements being considered. The Prime Minister's Ten Point Plan included support for the next generation of nuclear power plants to generate low carbon electricity. £525 million is being invested to help develop large and smaller-scale nuclear plants, and research and develop new advanced modular reactors. I am encouraged that this could create 10,000 green jobs.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Kind regards, Alister