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Against the background of increasing UK interest in the potential role of Small Modular Reactors, this article explores what is needed by way of a government regulatory framework to allow SMRs to fulfil their full potential.

The article looks at the regulatory and policy challenges for the construction and deployment of SMRs in the UK, with a particular focus on the key stage of Licensing (and Pre-Licensing).

In respect to pre-Licensing and the current UK Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process, the findings of the Cooperation in Reactor Design Evaluation and Licensing (CORDEL) Working Group are supported and specifically the concept of “Module Design Certification”. This would mean that design certification would include

the SMR reactor module and the primary safety systems, resulting in the module being standardised during the design phase. Importantly the module`s design (including the primary safety systems) would then not need to be reviewed again as a single module.

Another proposition is the use of a Master Facility Licence. Modifications that only relate to a reactor module could be designated as such and therefore could be reviewed as part of the design certification (or design change management programme). Changes under the Master Facility Licence would as a result concentrate only on safety issues that are common to the whole project.

The article concludes that SMR development and deployment in the UK will only happen if both the political and regulatory landscapes are sufficiently favourable and improving the regulatory landscape must be a priority to give confidence to investors and developers.

Read more about the proposed harmonisation of regulation at castletownlaw.com

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