Our role in nuclear regulation

Our role in nuclear regulation

We are responsible for regulating the nuclear industry in Wales on environmental matters such as disposals and discharges of radioactive waste, discharges of cooling water and operation of standby generators.

With the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), who regulate safety and security, we will make sure that any new nuclear power stations built in Wales meet high standards of environmental protection and waste management.

Wylfa Newydd

We are responsible for all environmental permissions relating to construction and operation of nuclear power stations in Wales and relevant 'associated developments' such as workers accommodation and ‘park and ride’ facilities.

At the moment there is one proposed site for a new nuclear power station in Wales; Wylfa Newydd on the Isle of Anglesey, where Horizon Nuclear Power plan to build two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs).

Environmental permitting

Any company that wants to construct and operate a new nuclear power station in Wales will need to apply to us for a range of permits and marine licenses.

We will give advice and guidance to the developer before they apply. Once submitted we will decide if the permits and licenses should be issued and what conditions should be applied.


We will provide pre-planning advice and guidance to developers and will be statutory consultees to the relevant planning authority; for example Local Authority and Planning Inspectorate.

Other work

Our work around nuclear new build also includes:

  • providing information about the environment around potential sites so developers can make sound decisions to protect and enhance our natural habitat
  • advising on the scope of developers’ Environmental Impact Assessments and providing information for the assessments
  • regulating site investigation works that are needed to check sites are suitable for development
  • providing pre-application advice
  • responding to consultations run by government, developers and local authorities
  • advising on flood and coastal risk matters for development sites, including 'associated developments' away from the main power station site, for example workers’ accommodation
  • providing advice and information to the planning inspectorate about planning and our regulatory matters
  • regulating the sites for environmental matters during their construction, operation and decommissioning phase

Communication with stakeholders and local people

During the permitting process we will consult with stakeholders and the public on our work. We will publish an engagement plan to inform people of how we will communicate and consult with them.

Generic Design Assessment (GDA)

Generic Design Assessment is the process being used by the nuclear regulators (Office Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency) to assess any new nuclear power station designs. It allows the regulators to assess the safety, security and environmental implications of new rector designs, separately from applications to build them at specific sites. In January 2014 they began assessing Hitachi-GE's UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR).

The GDA process is not site specific and has a number of steps, with the assessment getting increasingly detailed. At the end of the process ONR and the Environment Agency will decide if the proposed designs are acceptable for use in the UK.

We will use information from the GDA in in the assessment of any future environmental permit applications for Wylfa Newydd.

Natural Resources Wales is a member of the Environment Agency GDA Programme Board and will keep stakeholders in Wales updated on the progress of the GDA for the UK ABWR.