Regulators give go-ahead for four power station designs to proceed to next assessment stage

Four designs for nuclear power stations have passed the first stage for construction approval.

Nuclear regulators at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency (EA) said that the proposals meet the standards on safety, security and the environment needed for construction on licensed sites in the UK.

The four approved designs are: AECL's ACR 1000; EdF/Areva's EPR; General Electric-Hitachi's ESBWR and Westinghouse's AP1000.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is now waiting to hear whether the design companies want to go to the next stage of its generic design assessment. It will then decide which designs are most likely to make it through to the final stages and make recommendations on this to the HSE and the EA.

Dr Mike Weightman, head of the HSE's nuclear directorate and HM chief inspector of nuclear installations, said: “As new nuclear power stations are being considered for the UK, it is vital for regulators to get involved with potential designs at the earliest stage - where regulatory assessments can have most influence - so that we can ensure that the existing high standards of nuclear safety and security in the UK are being maintained and improved.”

The reports have been published on the HSE website and the public are invited to comment.

The generic design assessment process was set up to make sure that plans for power stations were examined at the design stage. The process is expected to take around three-and-a-half years.