Office for Nuclear Regulation

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AWE Annual Review of Safety and the record of the AWE 'A6' group

Date released
17 April 2020
Request number
202002072
Release of information under
Freedom of Information Act 2000

Information requested

Please provide me with copies of the following documents:

Information released

In response to your request, please find attached the following three documents:

  1. AWE Annual Review of Environment and Safety 2018
  2. AWE PRS2 update – September 2019
  3. A6 Meeting minutes – September 2019

To avoid confusion the security markings have been removed as they become meaningless once the documents are released under FOI.

Some information has been withheld because it contains personal data (particularly names of participants of meetings). The personal data has been withheld using the exemption section 40(2) - Personal information of the FOIA . This is an absolute exemption so does not require the public interest test to be applied.

This exemption allows public authorities to protect personal information. Release of the information would breach principle (a) of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (lawfulness, fairness and transparency) on the grounds that there is no lawful basis to process this data.

In addition, releasing this personal data would also breach principle (b) of GDPR (purpose limitation) as the data was provided solely for a record of attending the meeting.

We have also redacted some information due to its sensitive nature in line with Section 24 - safeguarding national security of the FOIA .

Further, a small amount of information has been redacted on page five in the A6 meeting minutes which if released would negatively impact international relations. This has been redacted in line with Section 27 - international relations of the FOIA .

A description of these exemptions and their use can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website, links below. We have also been in contact with the relevant third parties in relation to the application of the exemptions.

As both Section 24 and Section 27 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 - safeguarding national security and Section 27 – International relations:

Factors for release:

Issues related to the nuclear industry are subject to close scrutiny and debate, there is a public interest in information related to nuclear activities and the release of such information.

The information may provide reassurance to the public about the safety and security of nuclear installations. It may also facilitate the accountability and transparency of ONR for decisions taken by them as a regulator of the nuclear industry. Furthermore, use of the exemption provides no further information to the public and represents a frustration of ONR’s policy of openness and transparency.

Factors against release:

Section 24(1) of the FOIA provides for information to be exempt for the purposes of safeguarding national security.

The information is sensitive as it provides details of locations, facilities, equipment and technical information shared with ONR in confidence, to facilitate our regulatory assessments. This information is judged to be of benefit to hostile and malicious antagonists who may exploit it to identify potential vulnerabilities in the safeguarding of the UK’s national security infrastructure.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, after careful consideration of the factors set out above, ONR has concluded that the information should be withheld. This information has been established as sensitive to the safeguarding of national security and shared with ONR in confidence, to facilitate our assessment. Therefore, it is ONR’s judgement that publication of elements of the information requested would not be in the public interest.

Section 27(1) of the FOIA provides for information to be exempt if its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice relations between the UK and any other state, relations between the UK and any other international organisation or international court, the interests of the UK abroad, or the promotion or protection by the UK of its interests abroad.

Disclosing such information would give the impression that the ONR, as the independent nuclear regulator in the UK, could not be trusted with sensitive information from international organisations and other states. This would adversely affect ONR’s and the UK’s immediate and future relations and opportunities to participate in information sharing forums and discussions, which could be of benefit to UK interests.

Disclosure would prejudice the interests of the UK abroad in particular the UK policy and strategic positioning to other states and international organisations. This is because releasing information regarding discussions with other states would harm the working relationships between the UK and the other states and organisations in question.

The development of thinking on such nationally and internationally important issues must take place in an arena that is conducive to independent regulatory decision-making without outside commercial interference or commentary from vested interests.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, after careful consideration of the factors set out above, ONR has concluded that the public interest test favours withholding the release of the information under the FOIA. Prejudice to international relations arising from disclosure is outweighed by the public interest in contributing to public knowledge and understanding.

Exemptions applied

Section 24, 27 and 40(2)

PIT (Public Interest Test) if applicable

N/A