SMR sites adjacent to existing nuclear sites – challenges and opportunities

Early SMR sites are likely to be close to existing nuclear sites. Whilst interface risks must be managed there are also opportunities for SMR projects to benefit from existing infrastructure

14 October 2022

First SMRs on or next to existing nuclear sites

The government has previously acknowledged growing interest in a number of existing nuclear sites for SMR deployment such as Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia, recognising the benefits of re-using “existing, licensed sites to take advantage of past investment in infrastructure and grid connections, and the skilled workforces around them.”.

Whilst we are still waiting for a siting policy for SMRs it seems likely that the UK’s first SMRs will be developed adjacent or close to existing nuclear sites. SMR developers will have to acquire a site and may have to negotiate land arrangements with their neighbouring nuclear site licensees.

Nuclear Co-operation Agreements

The development of a new nuclear project adjacent to an existing nuclear site will raise interface risks that have historically been managed through a contractual framework known as a site co-operation agreement.

When negotiating a site co-operation agreement, an SMR developer will want to ensure it is able to secure the necessary consents and otherwise develop its project on time and on budget. The neighbouring nuclear site licensee on the other hand will be focussed on ensuring the neighbouring SMR project does not frustrate its own on-going operational objectives or make it more difficult or expensive to comply with its regulatory obligations. Balancing these interests is crucial. SMR developers will also want to make the most of existing site infrastructure and possibly share services with their neighbouring nuclear site licensee.

Co-operation agreements for SMRs

Each potential SMR site will be different as will the capabilities, services and infrastructure available from the neighbouring nuclear site. We have now developed site co-operation agreements at five nuclear new build sites in the UK and are currently adapting this approach for an SMR project in Canada.

If you want to find out more about how site co-operation agreements can be used to facilitate SMR projects, or if you would like to register your interest in receiving edition 3 of our nuclear law book which will be published later this year and will cover this subject in more detail, please contact Ian Truman or Ian Salter.

Key contact

Ian Truman

Ian Truman Partner

  • Nuclear
  • Projects
  • Environment

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