The UK government has confirmed its intention to substantially increase the third party liabilities of operators applicable in the event of a nuclear incident.

This follows a public consultation held last year on the UK’s proposals to implement changes made to an international treaty on nuclear third party liability – the Paris and Brussels Conventions, to which the UK and most of the other EU countries are signatories, reports Nuclear Engineering International.

Currently, operator liability is limited to £140m per incident. The UK is increasing this to €1.2bn, to ensure that more compensation will be available to a larger number of claimants in respect of a broader range of damage. This €1.2bn is €500m more than the minimum necessary under the revised Conventions.

The new level will be phased in over five years starting at €700m on when the new regime comes into force and increased annually by €100m. The changes will apply to existing nuclear operators in the UK as well as any potential new build operators.

A liability level of €70m will apply to low risk sites (this is an increase from the current £10m) as well as a level of €80m for low risk transport of nuclear substances.

Charles Hendry

Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy, said: “This is an important step in transferring the cost of nuclear third party liability from taxpayers to operators, particularly as we move forward with new nuclear.

The UK government intends to amend legislation to implement these changes later this year. The changes to the Convention will come into force when all signatory states have implemented the changes.

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