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ONR welcomes report and findings of government review

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is meeting its objectives and effectively delivering its regulatory purposes, enabling the safe and secure use and storage of nuclear materials, a government review has confirmed.

The Post Implementation Review (PIR) of Part 3 of the Energy Act 2013 (TEA13), which established ONR in 2014 as the UK’s independent nuclear regulator, ended in March this year.

The report has now been laid in Parliament.

The PIR concluded that the objectives of Part 3 of TEA13 are being met and ONR requires no changes to its structures or functions.

The government review, which was independently led, noted that ONR is seen domestically and internationally as a strong example of an organisation which follows a modern, enabling regulatory approach, respected for its technical ability and regulatory performance.

The PIR concluded that ONR “generally engages well with stakeholders and its approach internally, and with industry, through the COVID-19 pandemic, has been valued.”

It added: "Its [ONR's] stability and commitment to ensuring a high-quality safety culture is welcomed” and “its record of making sure that industry operates safely and securely is good and its planned areas of focus are stable and transparent."

The review stated that ONR's current form and function was appropriate to carry out its intended functions.

It also noted that “interviews indicated that a large majority of industry found ONR to be an effective and competent organisation with whom they hold a positive relationship.”

The review went on to add that “recently there had been a noticeable improvement in ONR’s outward-facing manner, with ONR showing greater willingness to be involved in early discussions around issues and new innovative solutions, and actively seeking feedback.”

The review, required by Section 118 of TEA13, was jointly commissioned last year by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Mark Foy, ONR’s Chief Executive and Chief Nuclear Inspector, said: “We welcome the report, its conclusions and recommendations, which recognise ONR’s strengths, including our effective regulation of Great Britain’s nuclear industry.

“The report’s recommendations will help our journey of continuous improvement and ensure ONR remains a modern, transparent regulator delivering trusted outcomes and providing value for money, in line with our Strategy 2020-25.

“The review considered our purpose and functions, corporate governance and conduct, how we exercise our regulatory functions, and whether we are fit for the future to support current and future regulatory demands, including the government’s ambitions for nuclear.

“As part of the review, input was sought from a wide range of stakeholders including relevant government departments, industry, regulators, devolved administrations and interested parties, such as members of the NGO community. We are very grateful for all those who contributed. Independent reviews and stakeholder feedback are essential for regulators like ONR to assess our own performance and enable us to learn and improve.”

The PIR’s 14 recommendations and other suggestions helped shape ONR’s recently published Corporate Plan 2022/23.

They align to ONR’s ambitions to enhance the proportionality and consistency of its regulation, focus more on innovation, and drive greater efficiency, as well as continuing to build stakeholder confidence and trust through effective engagement in its work.

Katie Day, ONR’s Director for Policy and Communications, said: “We’ve already agreed an implementation plan to act on the findings from the review with BEIS and the DWP.

“We are committed to delivering the implementation plan over the coming months, which we believe will further enhance ONR as an effective and efficient regulator of the nuclear industry."

Read the full Post Implementation Review (PIR)