It is an exciting time to be involved in the nuclear industry, which is undergoing rapid change. As well as much of the UK’s existing nuclear fleet reaching the end of generating capability and the challenges of associated decommissioning, we are seeing significant investment in the development of new nuclear-generated power, in fission and now looking towards fusion, to increase the amount of safe and clean energy from reliable sources. Investment in nuclear energy is not only an important part of the UK’s plans to ensure greater energy independence; it will also create high-quality jobs and drive economic growth.

Yet nuclear power is one of the most challenging technologies to deliver. It is a heavily regulated area of law, not least in terms of safety, security and quality. These complexities extend to the legal structures and arrangements necessary to support its development, operations and, ultimately, decommissioning.

At Foot Anstey we have extensive experience in helping our clients to navigate these challenges. Our team has supported developers, site licence companies and contractors at all levels of the nuclear supply chain with achieving their ambitions within the nuclear sector.

Our focus areas

New nuclear builds

Our people have been working on new nuclear build projects since the beginning of the current renaissance in the UK. Foot Anstey has helped clients procure a significant number of site operations packages, which are critical to the delivery of the project (including transport and logistics, site utilities, catering and accommodation, security and IT). We also helped to establish a significant alliance between multi-national project partners to help deliver the commissioning of a new nuclear power plant.

Small modular reactors (SMRs)

In addition to the development of large-scale new nuclear build projects there is an increasing interest in the development of SMRs, which are considered to be lower cost, deployable, scalable and investable.

There are many similarities between the development of an SMR and the development of a larger scale new nuclear build project (for example, reactor technology and key supply chain participants).  However, there are a number of key differences (for example, unlike traditional new build projects where construction takes place on-site, SMRs are largely manufactured off-site and then delivered to location for final assembly).  Foot Anstey is working with clients to help identify risk associated with these distinguishing features and ensure that they are proactively and effectively managed.

Nuclear fusion

A further area of growth is the development of fusion power stations. The technology is different from that use in standard nuclear reactors, which rely on fission breaking atoms apart. This will inevitably lead to a number of challenges and opportunities for developers. For example, fusion energy facilities will not be subject to nuclear site licensing requirements and, therefore, will not be subject to the same regulatory regime as nuclear fission.  Fusion will continue to be regulated in the UK by the Health and Safety Executive and environmental regulators, rather than the Office for Nuclear Regulation. This means that, whilst a new regulatory regime will need to be understood and carefully navigated, it might ultimately result in a more streamlined process to getting fusion facilities established.

Whilst there are significant hurdles to overcome, the UKAEA is committed to developing nuclear fusion plants within the next two decades. Again, Foot Anstey is working with clients to help them realise their long-term ambitions to contribute to the successful delivery of fission projects. We have already seen clients looking to utilise fusion energy across a range of sectors, including the space and satellite sector to support space propulsion, as well as more typical grid power generation application.

Why choose Foot Anstey?

Our full-service, multi-disciplinary team of lawyers advises and supports clients with achieving their aims in the nuclear industry. Our specialist nuclear practice is built on the experience and quality of our lawyers coupled with our sector knowledge, which really sets up apart.

Foot Anstey’s experts have built up a strong reputation in the industry over the past decade and beyond, having worked on some of the most significant nuclear decommissioning and new-build projects in the UK, including the development of the new nuclear build project at Hinkley Point C – the largest construction site in Europe.

Our expertise extends from early-stage support on issues such as planning and environmental considerations and advising on contracting models and procurement strategies right the way through contract negotiation, contract management during build and operation and decommissioning.  We support on issues as wide-ranging as procurement, employment and immigration, IT and intellectual property, abnormal load logistics and import controls, as well as planning, construction, supply chain agreements, frameworks, corporate structures, trade restrictions and tax.

Our people

We are uniquely placed to offer full-service legal support, underpinned by sound commercial knowledge and understanding of sector issues, in conjunction with a price and value proposition that is extremely competitive.

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Hear from one of our experts

“It is an exciting time to be involved in the nuclear industry. At Foot Anstey we understand the unique challenges faced by our clients when working on a nuclear project. Our extensive experience makes us well placed to help to navigate those challenges and deliver successful outcomes for our clients.”

Ian Stubbs Head of Energy & Infrastructure at Foot Anstey

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