The Select Committee launched an inquiry on 18 November to examine the implications of the UK’s departure from the EU and Euratom on the energy sector and the UK’s national climate change commitments. It’s objective is to determine which policy areas should be prioritised for continued cooperation during the exit negotiation process.
On 28 February, David Senior, Director of Assurance, International and Policy gave evidence alongside Dame Sue Ion, Chair, Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board; Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive, Nuclear Industry Association; and Rupert Cowen, Senior Commercial and Nuclear Energy Lawyer, Prospect Law. The committee were interested in a range of topics including safety, research, non-proliferation and trade and ONR provided context on how Euratom fits within the wider international nuclear safety regime.
A full report from the Select Committee was published on 2 May 2017.
The Select Committee launched an inquiry on 25 January into the upcoming decision by BEIS on Small Modular Reactor design; whether roles and remit of the National Nuclear Laboratory are appropriate, and if the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board was successful.
Dr Richard Savage, Chief Nuclear Inspector and John Donald, Superintending Inspector were invited to give oral evidence on 28 February 2017 alongside Dr Adrian Simper, Technology and Strategy Director, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA); and Mr Xavier Mamo, Director R&D UK Centre, EDF Energy. The session focused on coherence of the Governments policy framework; coordination of nuclear R&D research in the UK; The nuclear research framework in France; skills and the capacity building; how to attract new entrants to the sector; value for money with regard to National Nuclear Laboratory; the merits of international collaboration on research; and Small Modular Reactors.
The Select Committee published its report ‘Breaking the cycle of nuclear indecision’ on 2 May 2017.
In January 2016 the Select Committee launched an inquiry to examine the decommissioning of nuclear plants at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd, and the development of a new plant, Wylfa Newydd.
ONR's Chief Nuclear Inspector, Richard Savage, supported by Mike Finnerty, New Reactors Programme Director and Mina Golshan, Sellafield Programme Director were invited to attend an oral evidence session on 23 May 2016. They were asked to give ONR's views on how decommissioning of Wlyfa and Trawsfynydd is being carried out, what potential there is for Small Modular Reactors to be built at Trawsfynydd and how that will impact decommissioning and future planning. During the session there was also interest in the Generic Design Assessment process.
Following ONR's evidence, Professor Andrew Sherry (Director, National Nuclear Laboratory), Andrea Leadsom (Minister of State, DECC) and Lee McDonough (Director Office for Nuclear Development, DECC) gave evidence. They both remarked on the good work of ONR, with Sherry stating that 'in the UK we have one of the most internationally respected regulators' whilst the Minister referred to ONR as 'one of the world's top nuclear regulators.'
In March 2014 the Select Committee launched an inquiry to look at the potential role of small nuclear power in the UK, including the barriers to deployment as well as potential risks and opportunities. Small nuclear reactors are defined as those generating less than 300 MW by the IAEA.
In addition, then ONR's Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nuclear Inspector - John Jenkins and Dr Andy Hall were invited to attend an oral evidence session on 22 July 2014 to give ONR's views on the challenges associated with the potential introduction of small nuclear reactors in the UK. During the session, the Chair of the Committee, Tim Yeo, praised the ONR and NDA's work. He said that '[The UK's] regulatory system is a gold standard for the whole world' and that 'the reasons why the British public are more supportive than the public in many other countries of the idea of more nuclear power stations is the confidence they have in the way that you and your respective organisations are doing your jobs. I think that is a tribute to you but it is also a great asset to the UK.'
We expect that the Energy and Climate Change will publish its findings and recommendations from the inquiry in Autumn 2014.
In June 2012 the select Committee began an inquiry into the challenges facing the construction and siting of new nuclear power stations, the first of these pledged by the Government to be operational by 2019. This inquiry sought to investigate the feasibility of delivering on this timetable and the potential barriers to delivering new nuclear power stations more generally.
John Jenkins (in 2012 the then Chief Operating Officer and Acting Business Head) and Dr Andy Hall (then the Deputy Chief Nuclear Inspector) were invited to attend an oral evidence session on 6 November 2012 to give ONR's views on the challenges facing the introduction of new nuclear reactors to demanding timescales, and specifically upon the Generic Design Assessment process.
The Energy and Climate Change Committee published its findings from the inquiry on 4 March 2013, including the recommendation that:
'The ONR and Environment Agency should plan their public engagement activities to coordinate better with the planning process, so that regulators and developers can be present at the same public meetings.'
The ONR supports and accepts this recommendation. In ONR, we are regularly looking for ways we can improve engagement with a range of stakeholders. This includes examining opportunities for working with other government bodies and licensees while being mindful of our need to provide independent regulatory decision making.
In March 2011 the Select Committee launched an inquiry into whether the UK's research and development capability is sufficient to meet its energy needs up to 2050, and what the Government may need to do to address any shortfalls. Their report published in November 2011 included 14 recommendations.
Government's response to the Committees report, published on 17 February 2012, sets out a number of actions to be taken in light of the Committees recommendations.
ONR welcomes the report and the Government's response and will play a full part in supporting the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir John Beddington and his team as they take this work forward.
In response to the March 2011 Select Committee report, on 30 August 2013 ONR published the first integrated statement of Nuclear Research Needs (NRN). This has been produced by ONR, taking account of the views of other organisations having regulatory responsibilities for certain aspects of the programmes, namely the Environment Agency (EA), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Natural Resources Wales, the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR), and also with the nuclear site licence holders (licensees), UK nuclear dutyholders and other key stakeholders. The 2013 NRN contained a contribution from the environment agencies and we continue to work with them, and DNSR, to explore the possibility of publishing a comprehensive regulators statement of nuclear research needs in 2014.
This NRN describes the current ONR view on the need for research related to issues that might undermine safe and/or secure operation of UK nuclear facilities if not properly managed.