The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is established today as a Public Corporation, under the Energy Act 2013. This is a significant milestone in its journey to become a modern, responsive, independent regulator.
This change in status puts the UK independent regulator in a stronger position to fulfil its mission to provide efficient and effective regulation of the nuclear industry, holding it to account on behalf of the public. It comes on the same day that ONR publishes its new Enforcement Policy Statement and Annual Plan for the year ahead, outlining the key priorities for the organisation.
Chief Executive Officer John Jenkins said:
“I am delighted that we have completed this transformation. It will make us stronger and ready to face a future where the nuclear industry is a key part of the UK’s energy mix. ONR is a first class regulator, and we recognise the scale and task ahead of us. Our change in status will provide us with the financial and operational flexibility we need to react quickly to changes in the nuclear industry, and attract and retain a nuclear-skilled workforce.”
ONR will retain the independent powers necessary to regulate the nuclear industry, but there will be a more consistent and predictable approach to regulation, and an expectation of continued commitment from industry to strong and visible regulation. The establishment of ONR as a Public Corporation provides the regulator with a stronger identity, which will help to increase public awareness of its role and responsibilities.
Dr Andy Hall, Chief Nuclear Inspector added:
“Our role as a regulator is critically important in ensuring that when it comes to issues of nuclear safety and security, we hold the industry to account. We are committed to publicly demonstrating how the decisions that we make are based on sound evidence and subject to proper scrutiny, which will ensure that we maintain confidence in the way that the industry is run.”
Department for Work and Pensions Minister of State for Disabled People, Rt. Hon. Mike Penning MP said:
“The establishment of ONR is a massive step forward in ensuring that the UK has a world class regulator and provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate that the UK is still at the forefront of the nuclear industry in providing energy for our future generations in a safe and effective manner.”
Baroness Verma of Leicester, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change added:
“Nuclear power provides high quantities of low carbon electricity and is therefore an important part of our overall energy mix, alongside renewables, clean coal and gas. We are already seeing the beginnings of a nuclear renaissance in the UK, which is good for the UK economy and employment and will provide secure supplies and affordable electricity. The Office for Nuclear Regulation plays a key role in ensuring that civil nuclear is managed safely and securely and the changes we have introduced through the Energy Act will ensure that ONR has the flexibility it needs to respond to a developing and growing nuclear industry.”
To support its new position, ONR has launched a new website today, carrying the new ONR brand, where it openly publishes details of its decisions relating to the sites that it regulates, including enforcement actions and corporate publications.