The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has announced that it has granted Sizewell C a nuclear site licence, allowing the installation and operation of a nuclear power station at the site.

The application for the license was initially submitted in 2020, but issues related to the shareholders’ agreement and ownership of land hindered the process from going forward in 2022. The ONR said such issues have now been resolved to its satisfaction.

The ONR added that although the granting of the site licence is a significant step, it does not permit the start of nuclear-related construction on the site. The licence simply formalises the ONR’s regulatory responsibility; Sizewell C will need to request permission from the ONR to start nuclear-related construction.

Hinkley Point C was the last site to be issued a license by the ONR in 2012.

Sizewell C now has a legal responsibility to comply with health, safety and nuclear security regulations and meet the 36 conditions attached to the licence covering the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of the plant.

Mark Foy, CEO of the ONR, said: “I am pleased to confirm that following extensive engagement and review by the ONR team, our assessment of the Sizewell C application is complete and a nuclear site licence has been granted. The licensing process is fundamental in confirming that operators of a nuclear site are ready and able to meet their obligations under the nuclear site licence, to protect their workforce and the public.”

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Sizewell C will feature two European pressurised reactors, which will produce a combined total capacity of 3.2GW.

In 2016, EDF struck a deal with China General Nuclear (CGN) to develop the Sizewell C project to the point where a final investment decision (FID) could be made. EDF held 80% and CGN the remaining 20%. However, owing to the UK Government’s security concerns regarding China, CGN was driven out of the investment, with the government acquiring a 50% stake for £679m ($845m) in 2022.

EDF is looking to reduce its share of the project from 50% to 25%, meaning the project will need new investors for an FID to be reached. In January, the government invested an additional £1.3bn in an attempt to attract private sector investment in the project.