UK updating nuclear liability treaties

The Government has now tabled the secondary legislation which will enact the updates to the Paris and Brussels conventions on nuclear third party liability in the UK. The legislation still needs to be debated and voted on by both Houses of Parliament which is most likely to happen in mid-April although it could happen earlier.

Once it is approved three provisions will come into force 21 days later, namely:
• legislation to be made to complete implementation of the regime changes
• Government to make provision to cover gaps in insurance availability
• Government to approve operator financial security arrangements to meet the new liabilities

However most of the changes will not happen until the Treaty changes are ratified which is expected in January 2017 although the precise timing will be discussed by the countries that have signed the Treaties in late March.

These changes impose much greater liabilities on nuclear site companies and assuming that the revised regime comes into force in January 2017 operators will be asked in June to provide details of their financial security arrangements to meet the new liabilities. These will need to be provided by September in order to allow DECC, Scottish Government and HM Treasury to be able to scrutinised them in time for the UK to ratify before the revised regime comes into force.

In order to complete implementation of the revised liability regime DECC will be publishing a consultation paper in early April on proposed changes to the Nuclear Installations (Prescribed Sites) Regulations 1983. This will set out the proposed definitions and criteria for sites and transport to qualify for lower levels of liability under the revised Act as well as a number of other changes.