Horizon applies for Wylfa Newydd site licence

04 April 2017

Horizon Nuclear Power announced today it has applied for a nuclear site licence for the proposed development of Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant in North Wales. Established in 2009 and acquired by Hitachi in November 2012, Horizon plans to deploy the UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR) at two sites - Wylfa Newydd, which is on the Isle of Anglesey, and Oldbury-on-Severn, in South Gloucestershire.

Wylfa Newydd site licence application - 460 (Horizon)
Andy Bevan, nuclear site licence manager (left) and Anthony Webb, director of safety and licensing, with the Wylfa Newydd site licence application (Image: Horizon)

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales announced on 22 March they expect to complete the Generic Design Assessment of the UK ABWR in December. A site licence meanwhile is one of the main permissions a developer needs to build and operate a new nuclear power plant.

Anthony Webb, Horizon's safety and licensing director, said: "Today's announcement marks a significant development in the maturity and growth of Horizon as we get ready to build and operate our lead site at Wylfa Newydd. We already have a proven technology, aligned with experienced leadership, and we are rapidly building the wider capability and organisation to help ensure success. Our focus will now be fully on providing the ONR with confidence in our ability to safely deliver this crucial project."

Receipt of the application by the ONR "now triggers a rigorous 19-month program of assessment and intervention to establish whether Horizon can demonstrate it will be in control of all safety related activities on its site", the company said.

The ONR said it would now review the application, "carrying out robust assessments of the applicant's organisation capability, governance arrangements and competence to be a nuclear site-licence holder". It will also assess the adequacy of Horizon's technical safety plans.

Mike Finnerty, deputy chief nuclear inspector and director of the ONR's New Reactors Program, said: "This is the first licence application for a new nuclear power station since 2011, and over the past three years we have been engaged with Horizon, providing them advice on the licensing process and the robust requirements expected of a nuclear site licensee."

The ONR will only grant a nuclear site licence "once it is satisfied that Horizon has met the 36 Licence Conditions and licensee obligations required to demonstrate it is capable and competent to install, operate and decommission a nuclear facility," Horizon said. "If licensed, Horizon will then be regulated by the ONR for the full lifecycle of the site from construction to decommissioning," it added.

In preparation for today's announcement, Horizon recently created a Site Licence Company Board to be chaired by Duncan Hawthorne, Horizon CEO. The company also appointed industry experts William Doig and Ken Petrunik as independent non-executive directors "to strengthen the board's nuclear credentials", Horizon said.

The nuclear site licence application comes as Horizon prepares to undertake its final stage of community consultation in the summer ahead of submitting its development consent order later this year, and as its UK ABWR reactor technology progresses through the fourth and final stage of its GDA.

If consent is granted, Horizon aims to receive all the necessary permissions by the end of 2018.

Horizon is developing plans to build at least 5400 MWe of new nuclear power generation capacity at Wylfa Newydd and Oldbury-on-Severn. Its power station sites will employ 850 people each once operational with a construction workforce of between 8000 and 10,000.

Horizon Nuclear Power Wylfa Ltd is the Horizon group company that submitted the site licence application to the ONR. It is a separate legal entity that, if granted a nuclear site licence, will be the Site Licence Company responsible for the construction and operation of Wylfa Newydd.

The ONR grants a nuclear site licence under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 for the installation and operation of a nuclear reactor. This covers the full life cycle from construction to operation and through to decommissioning. A standard set of 36 Licence Conditions is attached to each licence that requires Site Licence Companies to implement adequate arrangements to ensure compliance. Prior to a nuclear site licence being granted, a Site Licence Company has to demonstrate it is a suitable legal entity that is able to discharge its regulatory obligations.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News