The Environment Agency regulates new and existing nuclear power stations. It assesses new designs to ensure that their environmental impact – the radioactive wastes created and the discharges made – is acceptable, and that people and the environment are properly protected.
Specialists in nuclear regulation manage the agency's involvement in nuclear new build – including its planning consultee role and the conventional permits required during the site preparation, construction and operational phases.
The agency permits the disposal of radioactive waste from licensed nuclear sites. It inspects sites to check compliance with permit conditions and assesses the management of higher-level wastes for which there is no current disposal route.
It implements the government's “Managing Radioactive Waste Safely” process, which provides a framework for implementing geological disposal.
It also manages the response in the event of an incident on a nuclear site leading to the release of radioactive substances off site.
Why is this important?
Work at the generic design stage reduces regulatory uncertainty for developers and enables any problems to be addressed before construction begins. The agency’s work ensures the integrity of the nuclear industry, which is key to maintaining the public's confidence in an essential but controversial area.
Where the cuts may fall
A small reduction in people involved – from 70 to 67 – is on the cards. As work escalates with the nuclear new build programme, this smaller team is unlikely to be able to manage the workload.