GDA introduction and progress
Generic Design Assessment was successfully completed by Hitachi-GE on its original schedule, with the issue of a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) from ONR, and a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) from EA and NRW on 14th December 2017.
The Generic Design Assessment (GDA) is the process by which the UK nuclear regulators assess the potential suitability of a nuclear reactor design for development at an unspecified location in the UK, considering safety and environmental impact considerations.
It is not an assessment of the principles of nuclear energy, but of the design of the UK ABWR plant itself. Passing GDA is an important step in the process towards developing a station, but does not in itself give any ‘permission’ to develop. A Nuclear Site Licence is still required, as are environmental permits. Though the GDA may inform elements of these assessments, it does not replace them.
Power station developers must also go through the full planning process in order to gain a Development Consent Order.
The regulators describe GDA as below:
The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency developed the Generic Design Assessment or GDA process in response to a request from the Government following its 2006 Energy Review.
In their contributions to the Government's Energy Review, ONR and Environment Agency set out proposals to assess new nuclear reactor designs, in advance of any site-specific proposals to build a nuclear power station. The process became known as Generic Design Assessment (GDA).
The regulators conduct their assessments using a step-wise approach with the assessments becoming increasingly detailed at each step. At the end of each step reports are published, which provide an update on the detailed technical assessment undertaken by the nuclear assessors. The reports highlight any concerns or technical issues that have been raised during the assessment. ONR carries out its assessment in four steps, while the Environment Agency's process consists of a preliminary and detailed assessment followed by a consultation. At the end of the GDA process, the regulators will decide if the proposed designs are acceptable for build in the UK.