UK plans new body for the regulation of nuclear power

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Plans have been announced to create an Office for Nuclear Regulation, a new body outside of the HSE, designed to regulate the nuclear power industry.

The announcement was made by Chris Grayling MP in a written ministerial statement outlining the plans.

In the statement, Grayling said the new statutory corporation — the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) — would take on the relevant functions currently carried out by the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Transport.

The ONR would be a new independent regulator, formally responsible in law for delivering its regulatory functions and consolidating civil nuclear and radioactive transport safety and security regulation in one entity.

Grayling’s statement went on to say that the proposal will not affect the current regulatory requirements or standards with which industry must comply, and the vast majority of the costs of the regulator would continue to be recovered in charges from operators in the nuclear industry rather than funded publicly.

Welcoming the announcement of the ONR, Keith Parker, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: ‘The industry supports this move on the grounds that it would deliver a forward-looking organisation with clear lines of accountability and independence required for world-class regulation at such a critical time for the UK’s nuclear industry.

‘We would urge the government to bring forward the necessary legislation in a timely manner to ensure creation of the Office for Nuclear Regulation in its final format as quickly as possible.’

The Health and Safety Executive is now said to be taking steps to establish the ONR as a non-statutory body from 1 April 2011.

The UK is expected to generate electricity from nuclear new-build by 2025.