First nuclear site licence in over a decade granted to Sizewell C

By Nick Osbourne | Published on 7 May 2024 | 4 min read

Sizewell C has been granted a nuclear site licence in a significant step forward for the new nuclear power project on the Suffolk coast.  

It’s the first time that the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has granted a site licence for a new nuclear power project since issuing one to Hinkley Point C in Somerset in 2012. It comes into force today and follows a rigorous process of scrutiny and assessment by the nuclear regulator. 

As a licensee, Sizewell C has a legal responsibility to comply with a range of health and safety legislation and nuclear security regulations. In addition, the project needs to meet 36 conditions attached to the licence, which cover the design, construction, operation, and decommissioning of the plant.   

Mina Golshan CBE, Safety, Security and Assurance Director at Sizewell C, said 

“Securing a nuclear site licence is a show of confidence from our nuclear regulator that we have a suitable site, that we can achieve a safe design replicated from Hinkley Point C, and that we have a capable organisation ready to begin major construction work. It’s a huge milestone and demonstrates that this project is firmly on track.  

“We have made good progress already and this licence gives us the framework to further advance this project. As we do so, our commitment to safety remains unwavering and we will continue to work with our partners to bring learning from Hinkley Point C, and other major infrastructure projects, to drive best industry practice in safety and environmental protection. 

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Office for Nuclear Regulation for their constructive engagement over the past four years. Their effective and independent regulation is fundamental to the success of our project and for maintaining public confidence in the nuclear industry.” 

The decision to grant a site licence follows the ONR’s expression of support for Sizewell C’s replication strategy. In 2022, the regulator confirmed that building the same design as Hinkley Point C would deliver safety benefits and provide a level of confidence that would not be possible from a new or modified design.  Replication also brings significant efficiencies to Sizewell C, including the transfer of the broader lessons learned from one project to the other. 

Today’s development builds on strong momentum across all areas of the project. Earthworks at the site are now underway and a process to raise private equity from investors continues to make good progress. The project is anticipating taking a Final Investment Decision in the coming months. 

Minister for Nuclear & Renewables, Andrew Bowie, said: 

“Sizewell C will be the cornerstone of the UK’s clean energy transition, supplying six million homes with green energy for decades. 

“Obtaining a nuclear site licence is a significant achievement and should instil further confidence from investors – bringing us another step closer towards reaching a final investment decision this year.”  

Sizewell C will be one of the UK’s biggest clean energy projects. It will provide low-carbon electricity to six million homes for at least 60 years and will play a significant role in helping the government achieve its ambition of up to 24GW of low-carbon nuclear power by 2050. 

Sizewell C’s Nuclear Site Licence enhances the ONR’s regulatory oversight of the project on the Suffolk coast. In order to start construction of nuclear safety-related plant, the project must seek additional approval, including permission from the ONR and the Environment Agency (EA). 

Discover more

You can read more about the licence on the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s website.

And you can read more about what a nuclear licence means and what it covers on the ONR’s summary webpage.

Tagged with: Nuclear Site Licence
Posted by Nick Osbourne

Nick is Sizewell C's Media Relations Manager