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The publication on 30 March 2006 of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) approved Strategy sets out for the first time how the UK will tackle the clean-up of its historic nuclear facilities including the UKAEA site at Dounreay in Caithness, and the Magnox Electric Ltd sites, Hunterston A in Ayrshire and Chapelcross near Dumfries.

The Strategy – which was subject to a three-month public consultation last year – sets out a comprehensive plan for the decommissioning and clean-up of the NDA’s 20 civil nuclear sites.

Key principles established in the Strategy include:

  • prioritising safety, security and the environment by making the reduction of high hazards our key focus

  • an aspiration to deliver accelerated decommissioning wherever feasible

  • a competition schedule to create a strong competitive market that will achieve value-for-money for the taxpayer

  • maintenance and development of skills

  • effective stakeholder engagement

  •  the provision of socio-economic support for communities directly affected by decommissioning and clean-up

NDA Chairman, Sir Anthony Cleaver, said: “We were pleased by the range of constructive contributions that we received from the public consultation on our draft Strategy. Hence, we are confident that, in light of what we know today, our approved Strategy provides the best approach – in terms of safety, cost efficiency and sustainability – to tackle the UK’s historic 60-year nuclear legacy.

“Central to the Strategy is the competition schedule and, as a result of considerable feedback during the consultation period, we have revised this in a way which also accommodates the sale of British Nuclear Group. We believe our schedule sets ambitious but realistic targets that will create a strong competitive market.”

The Dounreay site is already focussed on decommissioning, has no operations and is relatively self contained. It will be offered to competition in 2008.

In order to get the best value for money and attract the best potential contractors, the NDA has decided to split all of its Magnox reactor sites into two packages broadly based on geographic locations – North and South.

The Chapelcoss and Hunterston A sites will be offered as part of the Magnox North bundle in 2009.
The NDA has achieved the approval of its Strategy within its first year which is the culmination of a range of significant achievements, including:

  • delivering real savings on the first year’s work programme

  • progress towards the creation of a new, industry-wide pension scheme;

  • progress on the skills agenda, including initiatives to establish a Nuclear Skills Institute and a National Nuclear Skills Academy.  A delivery arm of the Academy will be located at Thurso.

The NDA is:-

  • Working closely with the Scottish Executive, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), and other further education providers in the South and West of Scotland, and Local Enterprise Networks, to ensure the unique needs of Scotland, and the Dounreay area in particular, are properly catered for.

  • Developing a business plan with the College at Thurso and with local contractors that seeks to enhance existing infrastructure and courses in support of clean-up at Dounreay and enables the College to play a wider UK role.

  • Sir Anthony Cleaver said: “One of our most significant achievements over the past twelve months has been to gain a much better understanding of the costs associated with delivering our remit. We are today publishing new site life cycle baselines which together total £62.7 billion, but we have also identified a potential further £7.5 billion of costs that will be included in the 2006/7 estimates. Within these overall totals are the cost of our income generating commercial operations at £14 billion and the cost of decommissioning and clean-up at £56 billion.

“However, there are a range of factors that we have not yet been able to assess properly, some of which are the subject of Government policy reviews that will affect future assessments. We are targeted to establish the full costs of clean-up by 2008 and so this remains work in progress.

“Our priorities for the coming year are to launch our first competition – the contract to manage and operate the low-level waste facility at Drigg - and, by April 2007, issue a new Sellafield contract as part of the sale of BNG. We also intend to undertake consultations on the best approach to addressing socio-economic issues; to review site end states with stakeholders and to evaluate the business case for accelerated decommissioning for Magnox and other reactor sites.

“As we take these next steps, we will continue to review the Strategy to ensure it takes into consideration the latest developments in this very complex industry. Openness and transparency are our core values and we’re committed to delivering the best outcome for the UK as we begin to tackle its nuclear legacy in earnest.”

“We have made significant progress in our first year but there is still much to do. We are well placed to deliver a world-class programme of decommissioning and clean-up across our sites, safely, securely, cost-effectively and with proper regard to the environment.”

The Strategy is available for download from the website www.nda.gov.uk