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Inspector approves nuclear build programme

The chief nuclear inspector has backed new nuclear development in the UK as he publishes his final report on industry safety.

Energy secretary Chris Huhne today presented to Parliament the final report by the chief nuclear inspector, Dr Mike Weightman, into events at Japan’s Fukushima power station in March this year. This follows an interim report, published in May.

Additional information received since the interim report, including Dr Weightman’s visit to Fukushima, has reinforced and added further validation to the findings of the interim report.

The final report found that:

• There is no reason to curtail the operation of UK operating sites, although operators should continue to follow the founding principle of continuous improvement;

• There are no fundamental weaknesses in the UK nuclear licensing regime or the Safety assessment principles that underpin it, and intention to create the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in statute will further enhance confidence in the UK’s regulatory regime;

• The final report also confirms the advice given by Dr Weightman at the time of the interim report that he saw no reason to revise the strategic advice given by the regulators on which the Nuclear National Policy Statement was based, or any need to change present siting strategies for new nuclear power stations in the UK.

Mr Huhne said: “The report makes clear that the UK has one of the best nuclear safety regimes in the world, and that nuclear power can go on powering homes and businesses across the UK, as well as supporting jobs.

“We must however continue to improve where we can, not just with operating power stations and new sites, but by dealing with our nuclear legacy in a robust and effective manner too.”

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