Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Regulatory Research Register

This Regulatory Research Register follows on from the ONR Research Strategy published in August 2015.

ONR undertakes research for a variety of reasons, but all of the research supports ONR’s enabling regulatory approach and is aligned with our Research Strategy. The work identified in this register will help ensure that our inspectors form their regulatory judgements confidently and effectively, using sound, up to date scientific and technical information.

The entries to the Register have been developed by ONR’s technical specialisms. Our Professional Lead for each specialism has reviewed the proposals and those which meet our defined regulatory research principles and criteria are listed in the following sections. The principles and criteria used to screen and prioritise our research proposals and check they are aligned with our strategic goals are described below.  We liaise with other UK nuclear regulators, with the nuclear industry, and with other major UK nuclear research bodies to ensure our research proposals are appropriate.

To develop these proposals into tangible, useful outputs, we will convert the proposals into specifications, and then discuss these with the nuclear industry and key research providers. If appropriate, the nuclear industry will be invited to commission research to address these topics and share the results with ONR. If not, ONR will commission the research and publish the results. In most cases we will charge the costs of the research back to the relevant licensees and dutyholders.

Some of the research proposals describe long term ongoing research work which is being managed and delivered by industry groups. We monitor the delivery by these groups. This approach is particularly relevant to all the Control and Instrumentation research topics and many of the Structural Integrity topics.

For the graphite research, ONR has previously determined that we need to have research undertaken independently of the work the major reactor licensees also perform to underpin future safety cases. All of ONR’s independent graphite research topics are described for completeness in this register, this work is ongoing and will continue as needed.

Each year, ONR will publish an annual research update to confirm and publicise the work completed.


  1. The research proposal must align with ONR’s purposes as defined in the Energy Act.
  2. The research proposal must potentially support improved regulatory processes or decisions, or otherwise enhance the effectiveness of ONR’s inspectors.
  3. ONR will coordinate with industry and NIRAB/NIRO, sharing our regulatory research register to minimise duplication and overlap, but recognise that at times ONR will require a fully independent view of a topic to guide regulatory decisions.
  4. When possible ONR will work collaboratively with the nuclear industry to undertake regulatory research sharing the results across the industry in a fully open and transparent manner, noting independence as principle 3.
  5. All research undertaken and funded by ONR will be published, subject to confidentiality and security requirements


Relevant research


Regulatory Research Register - March 2019

Ongoing research projects - 2019/20 [v1]

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