Operating under a nuclear site licence
Produced in partnership with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Operating under a nuclear site licence

The following Environment guidance note Produced in partnership with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Operating under a nuclear site licence
  • Requirement for a nuclear site licence
  • Who is the regulator?
  • Statutory duties
  • Licence conditions
  • Enforcement

Requirement for a nuclear site licence

A nuclear site licence (licence) is required under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (NuIA 1965) to use any site for the purpose of installing or operating:

  1. a nuclear reactor (other than one comprised in a means of transport, such as a nuclear-powered submarine)

  2. a nuclear installation designed or adapted to:

    1. produce or use atomic energy

    2. carry out a process, capable of emitting ionising radiation, that is related to atomic energy production or use, or

    3. store, process or dispose of nuclear fuel or bulk quantities of matter irradiated by the production or use of nuclear fuel, or

  3. a nuclear installation prescribed by the Nuclear Installations Regulations 1971, SI 1971/381, eg processes using enriched uranium and the production of isotopes ad nuclear fuel elements

At present, no licence is required for a final nuclear waste repository or for decommissioning activities. However, a site undergoing decommissioning is often the subject of a legacy licence applicable to its previous activities.

Who is the regulator?

A licence is granted and regulated by the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR). The ONR is currently a non-statutory agency of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and exercises the powers and functions conferred on the HSE by the NuIA 1965.

The powers and functions of the ONR are proposed to be formalised in