UK government publishes proposals for nuclear clean-up, decommissioning

Operators will be required tohave decommissioning plans and secure funds in place before constructin

The UK government has published proposals on how operators of new nuclear power stations will have to make secure financial provision for decommissioning without recourse to the taxpayer, in line with the government's policy that there should be no subsidy for new nuclear.

As per the proposals, new nuclear operators will be required by law to put money aside from day one to pay for the eventual decommissioning costs and their full share of waste disposal.

The consultation on draft Funded Decommissioning Programme Guidance sets out how operators will be required to meet their obligation to have decommissioning plans and secure funds in place before constructing a new power station.

The government also published a consultation on a Waste Transfer Pricing Methodology, which sets out how a price will be determined for the disposal of new build higher activity waste in a planned Geological Disposal Facility.

The government intends to ensure the safe disposal of radioactive waste from new nuclear power stations without cost to the taxpayer, while facilitating investment through providing operators with the cost certainty they need to be able to invest.

The consultation includes the proposal that the government should set a cap on the waste transfer price, to provide operators with cost certainty.
The cap will be set at a very high level - the consultation suggests three times current cost estimates.

However, the government accepts that it is impossible to be certain that costs will not exceed the cap so, in return for setting the cap, the waste transfer price charged to new nuclear operators will include an additional 'risk fee' to compensate the government for accepting this small residual risk.