Office for Nuclear Regulation

This website uses non-intrusive anonymous cookies to improve your user experience. You can visit our cookie privacy page for more information, including details on how to opt-out.

Documents regarding the potential impact of Brexit

Date released
20 March 2019
Request number
201801056
Release of information under
Freedom of Information Act 2000

Information requested

Any reports, documents or Power Point presentations that the ONR has produced regarding the potential impact of Brexit.  I'm after reports in the last 6 months in terms of time frame.

Information released

I can confirm that the ONR holds information of the description in your request. We have identified two documents; we have released the first document in full, and are withholding the second document under Sections 24, 27(1)(a)-(d), 31(1)(g), 31(2)(c) and 43(2) of FOIA 2000. 

To be of further assistance, we have also provided the following information.

The ONR is the UK’s independent nuclear regulatory authority and, as such, does not have responsibility for EU Exit planning or for planning for a future relationship with the EU.  The Secretary of State for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has overall responsibility for the UK’s civil nuclear regulatory framework and policies including civil nuclear safety and security, new-build and decommissioning programmes, emergency planning and response, nuclear material safeguards and regulation of the transport of radioactive material.  As such, BEIS has the responsibility to prepare for all eventualities on exiting the EU and, as part of its ‘no deal’ preparations, has issued an overarching framing notice and technical notice for the Civil Nuclear Sector.

The UK’s international safeguards obligations, currently fulfilled through its membership of Euratom, will cease following the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom.  As a result, the ONR has been undertaking a significant programme of work relating to nuclear safeguards and a State System of Accountancy for and Control of Nuclear Material (SSAC). The ONR is focussed on implementing a UK SSAC by 29 March 2019 and this work is not contingent on whether an agreement with the European Union or Euratom is reached.   Documents relating to the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom have not been considered within the scope of your request.

As a responsible regulator, ONR has also considered the impact of Brexit across its purposes. We have set out our consideration of the documents below.

1) Document One – Impact of EU and Euratom Exit on ONR’s purposes

This document was produced for BEIS as a summary of Brexit impact implications across ONR.  It sets out how ONR is assessing wider Brexit issues beyond the work currently being done in relation to safeguards, and was provided to BEIS on 29 January 2019.

We have considered Section 27 FOIA (international relations) in relation to this document.  As this is a qualified exemption, we are required to balance the public interest between disclosure and non-disclosure.  We have therefore applied the Public Interest Test, as set out below:

Section 27 FOIA – International relations

Factors for release:

Factors against release:

Conclusion

After careful consideration of the factors set out above, ONR has concluded that the public interest favours the release of the document under the FOIA 2000.  Potential prejudice to international relations arising from disclosure is outweighed by the public interest in contributing to public knowledge and understanding of the ONR’s regulatory planning in considering the potential impacts arising from Brexit.

2) Document Two – Strategic Risk Review for ONR Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (including Annexes)

This document was prepared to provide an assurance to ONR’s Internal Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) of ONR’s ability to respond to Brexit implications (as distinct from our Euratom exit work) in an agile manner and was discussed at ARAC on 16 January 2019.  ARAC is responsible for ensuring the maintenance of appropriate and adequate audit processes, and for the governance of the internal and external audit programmes.  Additionally, ARAC has oversight of ONR's risk management processes on behalf of the ONR Board.  More information about ONR’s standing committees can be found on our website.

We have considered the public interest test in relation to the following sections of the FOIA for the document:

As these are qualified exemptions, we are required to balance the public interest between disclosure and non-disclosure.  We have therefore applied the Public Interest Test, as set out below:

Section 24 FOIA – Safeguarding national security

Factors for release:

Factors against release:

Conclusion

After careful consideration of the factors set out above, ONR has concluded that the information should be withheld as the nature of this information could be exploited by those with malicious intent to plan the execution of a malicious act against the UK, its citizens, and ONR’s dutyholders.  Consequently, releasing the information would not be in the public interest.

Section 27(1)(a)-(d) FOIA – International relations

Factors for release:

Factors against release:

Conclusion

After careful consideration of the factors set out above, ONR has concluded that the information should be withheld.  Disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice the strategic positioning and interests of the UK in relation to international bodies during the critical stages of concluding a Withdrawal Agreement in addition to government discussions on a future relationship with the European Union.

Section 31(1)(g) and 31(2)(c) FOIA – Law enforcement

Factors for release:

Factors against release:

Conclusion

Based on our assessment of the factors above, we have concluded that the information should be withheld under Section 31 (1)(g), and Section 31 (2)(c) of FOIA 2000.  The public interest favours non-disclosure in this instance as it would prejudice or be likely to prejudice the exercise by ONR of its regulatory functions for the purposes of ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise.

Section 43(2) FOIA – Commercial interests

Factors for release:

Factors against release:

Conclusion

After careful consideration of the factors set out above, ONR has concluded that the public interest favours withholding the information under section 43 (2). The public has a greater interest in ensuring that ONR is able to carry out its functions without prejudice to its commercial interests which outweighs the public interest in the release (and associated transparency) of this information.

Overall conclusion

ONR has concluded that, based on the assessments of the public interest tests above, Document one should be disclosed and is attached and Document two should be withheld in its entirety.

Exemptions applied

PIT (Public Interest Test) if applicable

Yes