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New regulator to oversee nuclear build safety

A new regulator will oversee safety when nuclear power stations are under construction.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation has functioned as part of the Health and Safety Executive but will become an independent body in charge of all aspects of safety during the construction and operation of the power stations.

In the Draft Energy Bill, the ONR is given responsibility to protect against harm from radiation including during the design and construction phases of “relevant nuclear installations and associated sites”.

It will also have a role in regulating any construction work concerned with the storage and use of nuclear material and in dismantling and decommissioning of obsolete installations.

Those with the required expertise needed by the ONR are likely to enjoy high salaries.

The Draft Bill exempts the ONR from normal civil service pay scales, allowing it to pay market rates for the skills it needs.

Explaining this, it stated: “Declining interest in the UK’s nuclear industry over the last few decades has meant a shortfall in the number of trained nuclear inspectors which…has serious implications for the ONR’s specialist staffing levels. The Energy Bill will give the ONR flexibility over its financial and employment arrangements to ensure it can meet its resource requirements on a fully sustainable basis.”

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