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Regulatory priorities for 2023/24 outlined at ONR annual conference

Almost 130 delegates today attended another successful Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) Annual Conference for an in-depth analysis of the regulatory landscape across Great Britain's nuclear sector.

The conference is a valuable opportunity for ONR to engage constructively with a broad cross-section of industry stakeholders and to outline regulatory priorities for the year ahead.

Representatives from EDF, Sellafield Ltd, Magnox Ltd, the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Devonport, Dounreay and many other dutyholders came to the Royal Society headquarters in London for a busy conference agenda.

Mark Foy, ONR's Chief Executive and Chief Nuclear Inspector, first addressed the audience about his recently-published annual report, which reported a good industry performance overall, but with some variable results in particular areas which require immediate focus in the next year and beyond.

Those topics - conventional health and safety and cyber security - were prominent themes throughout the day in Whitehall.

Gwen Parry-Jones OBE, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Great British Nuclear, was among the main speakers and gave her own personal and reflections of the conventional health and safety challenges facing the industry at this time.

Donald Urquhart, ONR’s Executive Director of Regulation, gave separate presentations about these two ONR industry themes, as it was heard how ONR is now pinpointing governance arrangements (including leadership), risk management and protection capabilities as strategic areas for attention for cyber security.

Paul Fyfe, ONR's Director of Regulation, Civil Nuclear Security and Safeguards, led a panel discussion on the same topic with Professor Paul Howarth – Chief Executive Officer, National Nuclear Laboratory, Professor Simon Hepburn, Chief Executive Officer, UK Cyber Security Council, and Mihaela Jembei, Director of Regulatory Cyber, Information Commissioner’s Office.

Along with the different presentations, the conference featured its usual roundtable discussion involving all delegates - this year focusing on conventional health and safety performance - and the day allowed for open and honest Q&A sessions with the day’s speakers.

One session, entitled 'The workforce challenge', involved Mike Finnerty, ONR Director of Regulation- Operating Facilities Division, in conversation with Sir Simon Bollom, Chair of the Nuclear Skills Taskforce, to consider the capacity and capability needs for a growing sector, with wide acknowledgement that a joined-up approach is essential.

After the conference, Mark Foy said: "Every year, our annual conference proves to be an important forum at which to have open conversations about the challenges and opportunities facing Great Britain's nuclear industry.

"The day recognised the significant amount of positive progress and achievements that have been made across the sector during 2022-23.

“But this was also an important and valuable opportunity to consider the areas where shortfalls or challenges have been identified and the strategic actions which can drive improvements in conventional health and safety and cyber security performance.

“As the sector prepares to support a growing nuclear portfolio, we have also begun to influence a joined‑up and industry-wide approach to building and sustaining a resilient, capable workforce for the future.

“These will be regulatory priorities into 2023/24, and likely beyond, to ensure the successful, safe and secure delivery of the UK’s ambition."