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Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Volume 455: debated on Friday 26 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will make a statement on the funding of British Nuclear Fuels’ nuclear liabilities; (117200)

(2) what assessment he has made of the latest accounts of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what discussions his Department has had with the Health and Safety Executive on the effect of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s fluctuating commercial revenues;

(4) what assessment his Department has made of the effect of fluctuating commercial revenues for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) on the life-cycle baseline plans and near-term work plans of all NDA owned nuclear facilities; and what discussions his Department has held with the operators of these sites;

(5) what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s fluctuating income stream on (a) the sale of Project Services, (b) the sale of Magnox Electric, (c) the competition for the contract to operate the national low level waste repository and (d) the competition of the contract to run Sellafield;

(6) what assessment his Department has made of the effect of fluctuating commercial revenues for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on accelerated decommissioning at Sellafield.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is a non-departmental public body responsible for the decommissioning and clean-up of the UK’s historic public civil nuclear legacy. Safety is clearly a Government priority and the NDA is responsible for ensuring this in managing its budget.

The NDA is funded by a mixture of grant in aid from my Department and income from its commercial operations. Grant in aid for the NDA in 2007-08 was settled in the 2004 Spending Round. The figure is £1,381 million. There is no question of this funding being cut.

For the last two years the level of spend by the NDA has been running at a significantly higher level that that assumed in the 2004 Spending Round. This was made possible because of unexpectedly high additional commercial income.

The performance of some of the NDA’s commercial operations is subject to uncertainty and the NDA now expects less commercial income for the financial year 2007-08 than it originally forecast. As a consequence, the NDA has asked my Department to provide additional grant to cover its additional spending plans.

The Department is in discussion with the NDA about its funding request as part of routine annual budgeting discussions, and is considering how much additional NDA expenditure (that is, above and beyond that provided by the 2004 Spending Round) can be sustained through increases in grant in aid.

The NDA’s Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06 were published on 26 October 2006 and copies were placed in the Libraries of the House. The Accounts are also available on the NDA website at: www.nda.gov.uk

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what effect he expects trends in the price of uranium to have on the final sale value of Urenco; (110538)

(2) when he expects British Nuclear Fuels to complete the sale of Urenco; and if he will make a statement.

The valuation of Urenco is influenced by a range of different factors.

Options for selling all or part of BNFL’s stake are still being explored with BNFL’s fellow shareholders in the business and with the Dutch and German Governments. We will decide on our preferred way forward once the issues have been thoroughly explored.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry by what date he expects British Nuclear Fuels to divest itself of all its business holdings. (110540)

By March 2008, we would expect Project Services, British Nuclear Group reactor sites and the interest in the Atomic Weapons Establishment to have been sold and the National Nuclear Laboratory set up based around the British Technology Centre in Sellafield, West Cumbria, and Nexia Solutions, which the Secretary of State announced on 24 October.

Options for selling all or part of BNFL’s stake in Urenco are still being explored with BNFL’s fellow shareholders in the business and with the Dutch and German Governments. We will decide on our preferred way forward once the issues have been thoroughly explored.

BNFL will maintain its involvement in the Sellafield Site Management Company until the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has transitioned the Sellafield contract to a new contractor.