Page 1: Introduction
The provision of energy to meet the needs of society is a pressing issue today. Many of the world's non-renewable resources such as coal, oil and gas are limited in supply. From the 1970s onwards, the UK was relatively protected by the discovery and exploitation of North Sea oil and gas. This increased supply benefited UK citizens and met more of their energy needs. For a short time oil and gas were no longer as scarce as before the discoveries. However, this supply will also run out one day.
The UK government is therefore seeking to develop other fuel supply channels. The problem the government faces is being too dependent on foreign suppliers. This involves a real risk of having to pay excessive prices to provide energy for homes and businesses. The government is actively encouraging the development of alternative fuels such as wind power and wave power.
Another alternative is nuclear energy. Other countries rely on nuclear energy. France supplies over 80% of its energy in this way. The UK government is currently exploring the possibility of developing modern nuclear plants on some of its existing nuclear energy sites. However, it must first make sure that all of the old sites are cleaned up in a safe and efficient way. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is the public sector body responsible for this.
A public sector body is appointed by the government to operate in the public interest. This means working for the benefit of society as a whole. It is accountable for its actions to a government minister and to Parliament. Any work undertaken must meet government requirements for safety and the efficient use of resources.
NDA is the owner of a number of nuclear sites and facilities. These include Sellafield in Cumbria, Dounreay in Scotland and the original fleet of Magnox Power Stations. The mission of the NDA is to deliver safe, sustainable and publicly acceptable solutions to the challenge of nuclear clean-up and waste management. In practice this involves:
- never compromising on safety or security
- taking full account of social and environmental responsibilities
- always seeking value for money for taxpayers
- actively engaging with stakeholders
This mission requires that the nuclear industry recruits the right people to work in this sector. The NDA is the driver in securing a flexible and sustainable world-class workforce for the next 100 years.
The nuclear industry has to be the safest place to work as there is no room for error. This demands that employers and employees maintain the highest safety practices of any industry in the world. Recently there has been a low uptake of science, technology, maths and engineering at a higher level within schools and at universities. This means that there are fewer people in the market with the required skills.
Like any organisation, NDA has a responsibility to respond to its stakeholders' interests. It works closely with all stakeholder groups, carrying out extensive consultation exercises with all parties in order to create a world-class industry with safety paramount.
This case study focuses on how the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority listens to and makes sure that it meets legal and other responsibilities to its stakeholders.