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ONR Expert Panel on Natural Hazards


ONR’s Expert Panel on Natural Hazards is a group of independent academics and specialist consultants covering a range of skill areas relevant to seismic hazards, meteorological and coastal flooding hazards, and climate change.

The Panel provides ONR’s External Hazards inspectors with a valuable source of authoritative technical and independent expertise. This supports ONR’s mission to protect society by securing safe nuclear operations (now and into the future).

The Expert Panel on Natural Hazards was established in 2010 and comprises two sub-panels and a Technical Secretary:

  • Seismic Hazards sub-panel.
  • Meteorological and Coastal Flood Hazards sub-panel.

Terms of reference

The working arrangements for the Panel are set out in the individual contracts with panel members. Recruitment has been conducted in accordance with ONR’s procurement process.

Appointment and recruitment

The members of the Panel are held in high esteem in their fields and they are independent of industry. The advice they provide to ONR’s External Hazards inspectors is both beneficial and important.

When the Expert Panel was first formed, specific eminent experts in relevant fields were approached to be members. This selection was based on the individual’s academic capabilities and their independence, such as an established lack of conflict or prior involvement with licensee organisations.

As gaps in subject expertise have been identified, those gaps have been filled by procuring the required expertise through competitive tender.

Governance arrangements

The sub-panels work separately due to the different specialisms of their experts and meet approximately annually on an as-needed basis.

However, on occasion a member of one sub-panel will attend meetings of the other sub-panel, which allows for an exchange of discussions and ideas. ONR External Hazards inspectors attend Panel meetings.

Agendas for the Expert Panel meetings are developed by ONR and are generally structured on three main areas:

  • Specific on-going projects and issues where the input of the Panel is sought
  • Internal ONR guidance work, including recommendations from the Panel on relevant good practice and applicable research
  • Administrative issues related to the Panel’s work

Methodology for advice and decisions

Regulatory decisions and technical guidance remain the responsibility of ONR inspectors.

The Panel members are a source of technical knowledge and provide advice to ONR on relevant good practice , emerging research in their areas of expertise and arising potential impacts on licensees and the public.

The Panel produce formal papers, known as ‘Panel Papers’, which are used internally by ONR to inform updates to the External Hazards technical assessment guide or assessment reports.

Panel members sometimes attend technical meetings with ONR licensees to provide guidance, observations, and feedback to inspectors.  Panel meetings can also be convened by ONR on specific topic areas as they arise.

Minutes from the Expert Panel on Natural Hazards - Meteorological and Coastal Flood Hazards Sub-Panel