The government has signalled its determination to withdraw from Euratom when it quits the EU by publishing plans for legislation to set up a new UK nuclear safeguard regime. The Queen’s Speech, delivered earlier today, outlined proposals for a Nuclear Safeguards Bill. The bill proposes that the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) should be given new powers, allowing it to take over Euratom’s responsibilities for verifying and reporting that civil atomic power materials are not diverted from their intended use. It will also take on the responsibility for ensuring that the UK meets its nuclear weapons non-proliferation obligations. The Queen’s Speech background notes said that the bill was designed to ensure that the UK continued to meet its International Atomic Energy Agency obligations to safeguard civil nuclear materials and protect the supply of UK electricity by nuclear power. Responding to the publication of the bill, Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, urged ministers not to give up on negotiating to remain a member of Euratom, which he said remained an “infinitely preferable outcome” to establishing a home-grown safeguarding regime.
Utility Week 21st June 2017 read more »
One of the more obscure new bills unveiled in the Queen’s speech is one covering “nuclear safeguards” as part of repatriation of legislation post Brexit. When your energy correspondent reported earlier on the implications of the UK leaving Euratom, an anonymous government spokeswoman was quoted as asserting that the UK wanted to see a continuity of cooperation and standards. “We remain absolutely committed to the highest standards of nuclear safety, safeguards and support for the industry. Our aim is clear – we want to maintain our mutually successful civil nuclear cooperation with the EU.” It is now time energy and foreign ministers and their advisors turn their attention to what they are going to do to ensure nuclear safeguards continuity in the UK post Brexit. But to give the new oversight role to our national nuclear regulator (ONR), as the bill proposes, will surely be unacceptable to other nations, as it would de facto be self-regulation.
David Lowry’s Blog 21st June 2017 read more »