Astonishingly, Great Britain was the first nation to build a grid scale nuclear power plant - Calder Hall.

It was decided by the UK Government to proceed with the civil nuclear power programme in 1952, and construction at Calder Hall began the following year.

Construction began in 1953 and was carried out by Taylor Woodrow Construction using 1950s engineering and construction techniques, was completed in 1956 and was officially opened on 17 October 1956 by Queen Elizabeth II.

Originally designed for a life of 20 years from respectively 1956-1959, the plant was after 40 years until July 1996 granted an operation licence for a further ten years.

The station was closed on 31 March 2003, the first reactor having been in use for nearly 47 years.

So four years from conception to going on line, taking three years to build.

Says it all...

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I wrote a submission to the TxP Progress prize on a very similar basis but with additional suggestions around locating these reactors on MOD land to bypass certain planning restrictions


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Come on... there is absolutely zero analysis in this opinion piece. If you presented a side by side comparison of the corresponding regulatory processes in the two countries to highlight the redundancies that you might have a valid point but it's utter drivel to make this point without any substantiation. You're also ignoring a massive conflict of interest here. You reckon South Korea will tell us their reactor design is fully validated and safe if they want to sell it to us in a multi-billion dollar contract...? No sh*t sherlock. Just look at Boeing. Why would anyone push for LESS checking of nuclear reactor technology?

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USA and UK/EU health and safety legislation is philosophically quite different and the difference demands different approaches to producing a safety justification. I imagine South Korea is different again. If you were to rely on a USA GDA it'd not survive a legal challenge in the UK courts. If you want convergence on regulation, you first need convergence on the regulations.

But more fundamentally, the author misses the enormous trap we create for ourselves: regulator shopping. Regulators are funded by those submitting for approval. This already is a conflict of interest. Now imagine that you were competing for that funding with other regulators. Just like UK examination boards have done, regulation would become a race to the bottom.

If you want to speed up nuclear build, simply allow for planning submissions to take place in parallel with GDA approval. The UK planning submission will take twice as long anyway so long before the planning submission is verging on any sort of conclusion, the GDA would be approved.

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Sweeping acceptance of another sovereign nations regulatory scrutiny is not something to be advocated for. Where would liability arise if a fault did occur? You are essentially relinquishing the governments responsibility to independently assess whether it is safe for its citizens. Spotting parallels and standardising where appropriate is another issue, and streamlining approvals where appropriate yes. But simply stating, 'look the US has approved it we should too' is simply egregiously irresponsible. Countless of examples can be given where the US regulations are lacking in comparison to ours especially on environmental grounds. 'DuPont lawsuits (re PFOA pollution in USA)'.

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It's an interesting idea, but the details of localisation work against it. As a really silly thematic example, the Korean electric grid is 220 volts at 60 hertz and the UK one is 230 volts at 50hz. And of course the Korean 2 pin plug meets regulatory code in Korea, but doesn't in the UK, and really substantial house rewiring would be needed to introduce enough breakers for a two pin plug system.

On the construction side, a concrete railway bridge design cannot be easily used on all sites between London, St Davids and Falkirk. The foundations on London clay are different to Welsh bedrock. The restrained thermal expansion between the two are therefore different, meaning different deck beams and abutments, and Falkirk's climate zone and snow loading is different again. They all look similar, but would not meet service life at the other location.

A gold plated design, robust enough for all eventualities can work out very expensive - see the furrer and Frey series 2 ole equipment used on the great western routes. For something as complex and failure intolerant as a nuclear power plant, it might be Very expensive indeed

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Not sure about simply following another regulator on something like a full scalev nuclear power plant but fine for a manufactured small modular type.

But would it not make more sense for our+EU+US regulators to share info and maybe share parts of the regulatory burden which should reduce costs and time.

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I suggest that if your proposal was adopted the current regulators here could do two other things with their spare time:

1 let it be known they are available to approve less well used drugs and techniques which might attract novel and interesting applications which might be expected to enhance the developers here

2 check on the actual outcomes of approved medicines, nukes, etc. They should learn about faults and corrections that need to be made but also about needless costs which could be saved next time round.

I am not hopeful.

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I wrote something similar about Nuclear regulations here - https://ombreolivier.substack.com/p/red-tape-strangles-nuclear-innovation - admittedly I was looking primarily at the US rather than the UK, but I think the same issues apply.

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