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The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is the safety regulator for the nuclear industry in the United Kingdom.[1] It is an independent statutory corporation whose costs are met by charging fees to the nuclear industry. The ONR reports to the Department for Work and Pensions, although it also works closely with the Department of Energy and Climate Change.[2]

Office for Nuclear Regulation
Statutory corporation overview
Formed2011 (2011)
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom
HeadquartersBuilding 4, Redgrave Court, Merton Road, Bootle L20 7HS
Annual budget£71 million
Statutory corporation executives
  • Adriènne Kelbie, Chief Executive
  • Mark McAllister, Chair
  • Mark Foy, Chief Nuclear Inspector


The establishment of the ONR followed a 2008 review conducted on behalf of the Government into the regulation of the UK civil nuclear industry, recommending the creation of a single industry specific regulator.[3]

It was initially created on 1 April 2011 as a non-statutory agency of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with the Government intending to put the ONR on a statutory basis at a later date.[4][3]

The ONR was formed from the merger of the HSE's Nuclear Directorate (the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, the Office for Civil Nuclear Security and the UK Safeguards Office) and from 1 June 2011, the Department for Transport's Radioactive Materials Transport Team.[3]

Nick Baldwin, former chief executive of Powergen (now E.ON UK) was appointed part-time interim chair of the ONR on its formation,[1] resigning as a non-executive director of Scottish and Southern Energy.[5] John Jenkins was appointed as Chief Executive of ONR from 1 June 2013,[6] having previously been chief operating officer.[7]

Legislation to establish the ONR was included in the Energy Act 2013, and it was formally launched as an independent statutory corporation on 1 April 2014.[8] The ONR is governed by a ten member board, and is accountable to Parliament through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in matters of finance, governance and non-nuclear health and safety.[9]

John Jenkins resigned from his post on 28 February 2015 and was replaced by Les Philpott on 1 March 2015 as the Interim Chief Executive. Adriènne Kelbie was appointed Chief Executive and took up the appointment on 18 January 2016.[10]

As of 2017 it had about 600 staff and a budget of £70.7 million which was largely cost-recovered from users with a 4% grant from the DWP.[9] In October 2017 Mark Foy was appointed Chief Nuclear Inspector; he was previously the Deputy Chief Nuclear Inspector.[11]

Generic Design Assessment processEdit

Following the 2006 Energy review the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate developed the Generic Design Assessment process (GDA), now operated by ONR, to assess new nuclear reactor designs ahead of site-specific proposals.[12] The GDA started assessing four designs:

However the ACR-1000 and ESBWR were subsequently withdrawn from the assessment for commercial reasons,[13][14] leaving the EPR and AP1000 as contenders for British new nuclear builds.[15][16] Assessment of the AP1000 was suspended at Westinghouse's request, awaiting a firm UK customer before addressing issues raised by the assessment.[17]

In 2012 Hitachi purchased Horizon Nuclear Power, announcing intent to build two to three 1,350 MWe Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) on both of Horizon's sites.[18] The ABWR will first require a UK GDA.[19] The assessment was agreed in April 2013.[17]

In 2015 Westinghouse resumed the AP1000 assessment, after Toshiba and ENGIE purchased NuGeneration and announced plans to develop Moorside Nuclear Power Station with 3 AP1000s. The GDA was initially planned to finish in March 2017. However as of November 2016 the ONR noted there was a "very large amount of assessment to complete with issues still emerging". Slippage of the completion date is likely,[20][21] though good progress was made early in 2017.[22]

On 21 September 2015 Energy Secretary Amber Rudd announced that a Chinese designed nuclear power station was expected to be built at Bradwell nuclear power station. The reactor chosen will first require a UK GDA,[23][24] which is likely to start in 2017 assessing the Hualong One.[25] On 19 January 2017 the GDA process for the Hualong One started, expected to be completed in 2021, in advance of possible deployment at the Bradwell nuclear power station site.[22]

On 30 March 2017 the AP1000 successfully completed the GDA process,[26] ironically the day after the designer, Westinghouse, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because of $9 billion of losses from its nuclear reactor construction projects, mostly the construction of four AP1000 reactors in the U.S.[27]

The ABWR GDA process completed successfully in December 2017.[28]

Nuclear defence activitiesEdit

Although the ONR is primarily a civil regulator, the ONR Defence Programme regulates military nuclear and conventional safety across a number of licensed and non-licensed nuclear sites, which are operated for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) nuclear defence capability. This is carried out under a complex legal regime, in conjunction with MOD’s Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR). The ONR does not influence the design of submarine nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons, and does not regulate security or transport of MOD nuclear materials.[29]

ONR responsibility includes assessing the response systems for nuclear weapon accidents at HMNB Clyde and RNAD Coulport, in Argyll, Scotland.[30]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b New UK nuclear industry regulator launched Archived 9 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine HSE, accessed 3 April 2011
  2. ^ "Who we work with". ONR. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Proposed changes to the way we work Archived 30 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine HSE, accessed 3 April 2011
  4. ^ Creation of the Office for Nuclear Regulation – Written ministerial statement from the Department for Work and Pensions Archived 30 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine published 2011-02-08, accessed 3 April 2011
  5. ^ Baldwin leaves SSE board Herald Scotland, published 2011-04-02, accessed 3 April 2011
  6. ^ John Jenkins formally appointed as Chief Executive of ONR, published 2013-06-07, accessed 9 June 2013
  7. ^ Appointment of Chief Operating Officer Archived 3 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine, published 2012-05-31, accessed 9 June 2013
  8. ^ "ONR becomes Public Corporation". ONR. 1 April 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  9. ^ a b "UK regulator outlines plan to 'remain fit for future'". World Nuclear News. 7 July 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "UK gets new chief nuclear inspector". Nuclear Engineering International. 30 October 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Background – assessment of new nuclear power stations". Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  13. ^ "AECL bows out of British reactor development to focus on Canadian projects". CBC News. 4 April 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  14. ^ "Interview: "We will be back" in Europe, says GE". Nuclear Engineering International. 15 September 2009. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  15. ^ "New Nuclear Power Stations – Progress so far". Health and Safety Executive. Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  16. ^ "News – Taking GDA work forward in the light of the unprecedented events in Japan". Health and Safety Executive. Archived from the original on 28 December 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  17. ^ a b "UK starts ABWR design assessment". World Nuclear News. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  18. ^ "Hitachi buys UK nuclear project from E.On and RWE". BBC. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  19. ^ "ABWR set for UK design assessment". Nuclear Engineering International. 16 January 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2013.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "UK regulator reports 'slippage' in assessment of AP1000 design". World Nuclear News. 8 January 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  21. ^ "UK regulators question Westinghouse's target date for AP1000 GDA". World Nuclear News. 28 November 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  22. ^ a b "UK GDA reports good progress for AP1000 and UK ABWR". Nuclear Engineering International. 23 March 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  23. ^ George Parker (21 September 2015). "UK paves path for west's first China-designed nuclear reactor". Financial Times. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  24. ^ "China ready to build new nuclear plant at Bradwell-on-Sea". Essex Chronicle. 21 September 2015. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  25. ^ "UK to start regulatory assessment of Chinese design". World Nuclear News. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Westinghouse AP1000 completes GDA process in the UK". Nuclear Engineering International. 3 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  27. ^ "Westinghouse files for bankruptcy". Nuclear Engineering International. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  28. ^ "Hitachi-GE ABWR design cleared for use in UK". World Nuclear News. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  29. ^ Regulation of GB's Defence Nuclear Programme (PDF) (Report). Office for Nuclear Regulation. January 2019. NS-INSP-GD-056. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  30. ^ "HM Naval Base Clyde – Quarterly report for 1 July 2011 to 30 September 2011". Bootle: Office for Nuclear Regulation, Health and Safety Executive. Archived from the original on 8 July 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2012.

External linksEdit