Energy Update

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written statement – made on 20th July 2021.

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Photo of Anne-Marie Trevelyan Anne-Marie Trevelyan Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

We today publish the Government’s combined response to the March 2021 final report of the Magnox Inquiry and the June 2021 Departmental Review into the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The response has been co-authored by BEIS, the Cabinet Office and UK Government Investments. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has developed its own combined response to both the Magnox Inquiry final report and the Departmental Review, which is also being published today.

Since it was established under the Energy Act 2004, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has driven a significant step change in the decommissioning of the UK’s legacy nuclear sites. The organisation’s portfolio includes 17 licenced nuclear sites, with over 15,000 people across its estate, and contributes very significantly to the Government’s levelling up agenda. However, there is an ongoing need for the organisation to evolve to become a more resilient, efficient and effective organisation that continues to drive transformation on the ground and deliver value for money for the taxpayer.

The Magnox Inquiry was an independent, non-statutory inquiry commissioned by the then Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP in 2017. Its purpose was to review the procurement and subsequent termination of a management contract for decommissioning the Magnox nuclear power stations. An interim report was published in October 2017 with a number of initial findings and the March 2021 final report contained a total of 57 recommendations. These recommendations centred around future commercial assurance, oversight of governance procedures and organisational culture change.

The Departmental Review into the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, conducted by an independent team within BEIS, was published in June 2021, with a total of 26 recommendations. These centred around the form and function of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, its oversight by Government and its internal governance, organisational health and operational effectiveness.

I am grateful to Mr Holliday and his team and to the independent Departmental Review team for their comprehensive and rigorous work, which is reflected in the reports.

Since the publication of the Magnox Inquiry interim findings, significant progress has already been made to strengthen and simplify the organisation of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estate. This includes the replacement of management contracts with direct subsidiary arrangements to support improved efficiencies across the estate and improvements to the governance of assurance and approval decisions, especially in the area of commercial assurance. There has been a complete overhaul of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority leadership team since the 2017 Magnox procurement and the Government has also enhanced its oversight arrangements for the organisation. The recommendations from the reviews complement the progress made and propose further improvements.

Both reviews that are being responded to today contain further valuable lessons for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and for the Government. We take the recommendations very seriously and have considered them with great care. The responses will give stakeholders confidence of the depth of reach and robustness with which the learnings from the reports will have an impact on the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will prioritise the implementation of the commitments within these responses as we continue to deliver against the UK’s critical nuclear decommissioning challenges.