The Regulators’ Code came into effect in April 2014 and aims to provide a framework for how regulators should engage with those they regulate. In 2015 we published a review of our compliance with the Regulators’ Code, which offered an assessment of where we were meeting the requirements of the new Code while also highlighting areas for improvement.
We have since carried out two further self-assessment exercises in 2018 and 2020 to assess progress against the actions from the previous reviews and provide updates on how well our activity currently aligns with the Code. The latest update was published in 2020 to coincide with the end of our Strategy 2015-20. In the UK, we have a goal-setting framework for regulation of the nuclear sector which places accountability clearly on dutyholders to achieve the high standards of safety and security required. Reflecting on our experience of regulating in accordance with the Code we generally found in 2018 and 2020, as in 2015, that our regulatory framework allows us to regulate according to the high standards expected while also operating in accordance with the Code.
However, we are not complacent and following these self-assessment exercises in 2015, 2018 and 2020 we have identified further improvements that we can make to better align our activity with themes in the Code, while also supporting our broader desire to continuously improve.
Following the publication of our first review of compliance against the Regulators’ Code in 2015, the ONR Board commissioned a review of the economic impact of our regulation on industry dutyholders. We tasked independent consultants, NERA Economic Consulting, with examining the economic impact of ONR’s civil nuclear safety regulation.
From the outset, we were clear that any consideration of cost crucially depends on the circumstances and there are clearly instances, such as meeting fundamental nuclear safety principles or established relevant good practices, where we will not entertain arguments that such measures are too costly. We also asserted that our existing guidance reflects a willingness, where appropriate, to take account of costs during engagement with dutyholders.
NERA’s report 'The economic impact of ONR safety regulation' noted that ONR was an impressive regulator and highlighted a number of positive findings including our current regulatory strategy for Sellafield and the Generic Design Assessment process. It also concluded there was scope for further improvements, while identifying potential areas for ONR’s consideration.
Our response to NERA's report sets out our intended actions to address these recommendations. It also clarifies our position where any finding is not considered appropriate given the legal framework in which we operate.
Overall we believe that NERA’s report, and the positive engagement with the authors, has enabled us to identify a number of real improvement measures in terms of our awareness of, and approach to, our economic impact on the industry we regulate.
Ensuring a safe and secure nuclear industry will always be our overriding priority and we are robust in upholding the law, using our regulatory enforcement powers wherever necessary. Any actions identified in response to NERA's report are consistent with this priority.