A new Environment Agency permit has come into force at Sellafield today, to reflect the changing focus at the nuclear site from reprocessing to decommissioning.

A major review - the most significant for nearly 20 years - of Sellafield's Radioactive Substances permit has been carried out by the Environment Agency.

The nuclear site's new permit comes into force today.

The permit controls the receipt and disposal of radioactive waste for the Sellafield site and imposes conditions and limits on discharges.

It allows the site to operate facilities, make discharges to sea and air and dispose of solid waste.

The new permit reflects the diminishing role of reprocessing at Sellafield, with a shift towards decommissioning.

The Sellafield site has historically reprocessed nuclear fuel in its THORP and Magnox reprocessing plants.

Fuel reprocessing ended at THORP in November 2018. Magnox reprocessing is planned to end in 2021.

This will mean that the site will see a significant reduction in radioactive discharges to the environment.

Sellafield's permit has been updated to take into account the forecast reductions in radioactive discharges, and now has lower discharge limits put in place.

The Environment Agency ran a consultation on this application and another on the draft decision in late 2019 and reached a final decision on this application and issued the permit variation to Sellafield Ltd on 27 February 2020.

This permit variation was due to come into effect on April 1 2020, however as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Sellafield Ltd was not able to make the changes required to implement the variation on that date and a new date of October 1 was established and the permit variations will come into force then.