Office for Nuclear Regulation

Stakeholder engagement

Inspiring public confidence in our regulation of the nuclear industry is essential to ensure we remain a highly respected and trusted regulator in the UK and internationally, and is a key theme of our Strategy 2020-25 and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy 2020-25.

We operate in an increasingly high profile environment, with a continued focus and attention on the nuclear industry. We have enhanced our levels of stakeholder engagement to respond to public interest in our work from local campaign and pressure groups, NGOs, professionals, media and others.

Our commitment to openness and transparency underpins the approach to all our communications and stakeholder engagement – vital in helping to build and maintain public trust.  

Working with our stakeholders

Our mission is to protect society by securing safe nuclear operations. To do this we engage proactively with a wide range of stakeholders at a local, national and international level. We know the views of our stakeholders will vary considerably and we recognise the importance of hearing all views, voices and perspectives: we welcome this diversity.

We always seek to engage with our stakeholders in a balanced and fair way, responding to all perspectives, while being clear about our role, purpose and independence. We have used insight from our recent stakeholder survey (to be updated with new one) to improve how we work with our stakeholders.

We use a range of proactive digital methods of communication, including videos, webinars and social media to engage with stakeholders.

We proactively and reactively engage with media to build understanding, confidence and trust in our regulatory role.

We have increased our programme of face-to-face engagement activities with stakeholders including 'NGO' forums (currently being held virtually), a regular Industry Conference, an Annual Finance Industry event, international events and the Chief Nuclear Inspector's Independent Advisory Panel.

Our increased stakeholder interactions have allowed us to gain a greater insight into their views, interests and concerns. This is really important to us as it helps to inform our approach to communications and stakeholder engagement. It also allows us to respond to stakeholder concerns / issues quicker and more effectively.     

Our website is an important communication channel. In 2020/21, we published 30 project assessment reports, 92 site stakeholder group reports and 272 intervention records. The site was visited by more than 137,000 unique users from across 178 countries.

Our newsletter 'ONR news' reaches over 9,000 stakeholders. It provides information about our regulatory priorities and activities, how we are building our capacity and capability and how we are modernising as an organisation.

Stakeholder Survey

The report from each stakeholder survey that we've completed since 2017  is available on our corporate publications page.

Engaging with Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and campaign groups

Our engagement with NGOs and local campaign groups has enabled us to have honest, open and constructive dialogues resulting in improved levels of trust.

We have strengthened governance of the ONR NGO Forum meetings by refreshing and publishing new Terms of Reference, welcoming new members, increasing our programme of face-to-face activities and putting in place more collaborative co-chair arrangements. We are always keen to widen the membership, so if you are a local/national campaign group who would like to part of the forum, please contact us.

Outside of formal meetings with NGOs, our webinar programme, regular correspondence, news updates and bespoke meetings have all enhanced our engagement and made us more accessible. This has all helped build trust, confidence and understanding and we will continue to explore how and when we remain engaged with stakeholders.

Engaging with industry 

We use multiple channels to engage with industry from routine inspections - over 600 during 2020/21 - to regular meetings with dutyholders and licensees.

We continue to attend Site Stakeholder Groups, Local Liaison Committees and Local Community Liaison Councils, providing updates on our regulatory activity. We also engage with the Safety Director's Forum (SDF), which facilitates effective industry communication on strategic regulatory issues, and is useful for gathering regulatory intelligence and responding to industry views.

Our annual Industry Conference is an effective way to engage with those we regulate – this helps build effective and trusted working relationships. We are currently exploring how we will hold similar events in the next year in current circumstances and to public health guidelines.

The Chief Nuclear Inspector's Independent Advisory Panel meets twice a year to provide us with independent advice on nuclear matters.  

The panel comprises a range of experts from industry, professional institutions and academics. In March 2019, we embraced greater transparency and diversity by appointing two NGO community members.

Working with government  

As a public corporation we are accountable to Parliament through the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. We are sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in relation to governance, finance and conventional health and safety issues.     

We also have a close working relationship with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Secretary of State for BEIS is accountable to Parliament for civil nuclear safety, security, safeguards and related policies. We provide BEIS with our expertise and technical knowledge to help shape government policy as an independent regulator.

We engage with government departments to consider our regulatory planning assumptions to ensure that we are able to manage our resources effectively. These are kept under review throughout the year, and then refreshed and agreed annually to form part of our Corporate Plan.

We also work closely with Scottish Government, including regular engagement with them about nuclear sites in Scotland.

Work with other regulators

We work closely with a range of other UK regulators including the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Public Health England.

We have several Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) in place - sometimes referred to as a General Agreement - between ourselves and other regulators to ensure that the parties involved understand each other's responsibilities. These are not legally binding documents but they are used to govern relationships.

International engagement

We have Strategic Framework for International Engagement in place, highlighting the importance of our international work, our objectives and key focus areas.

Achieving this requires proactive engagement with international and European institutions and national regulators.

We continue to proactively work with key international bodies including:

Our engagement with these bodies enables us to influence globally, learn from relevant international good practice and maintain alignment with international obligations, standards and conventions ensuring their output takes account of UK practice / law and meets the UK's needs.

If you have any comments or feedback, please contact us.

Our engagement with academia

We engage with a wide range of academic institutions, providing us with indepentdent advice, evidence and expertise to help us make our regulatory decisions.  

It’s important that we continue to engage with traditional academic institutions and professional bodies, expert panels and other groups so we have the required information needed to inform our regulatory decisions.

They help us access the latest research, scientific knowledge and information, providing other evidence and knowledge to support our work, helping to ensure our decisions are well informed and based on up-to-date information.

We are committed to cultivating our existing relationships and building new ones with academia and professional bodies. Where appropriate we will look promote more collaborative working to help as learn, including newer areas of our work, such as our approach to regulating innovation and new technologies.

We also work with academia to cultivate talent pipelines. This will enable us to secure the people we require, and develop our current staff, to ensure they have the right mix of skills and experience to regulate effectively now and in the future.