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Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Volume 467: debated on Thursday 22 November 2007

7. What the effects of the comprehensive spending review are for funding of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. (166788)

The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
(Mr. John Hutton)

The comprehensive spending review provided the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority with funding to deliver a full programme of nuclear decommissioning and clean-up, in line with the NDA’s strategy and business plans.

Does the Secretary of State share my concern about the loss of skilled jobs at Winfrith and other sites commencing in January, and about the deferment of decommissioning, which I believe is at variance with previous plans? At the end of the day, who is accountable and responsible for those actions, particularly if safety were to be compromised?

Ultimately, I am responsible to the House for those matters, and that is how it should be. I am aware of the Winfrith issue. I recently met the chairman of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, and she raised those concerns with me. I am looking into the issues that she and the hon. Lady have raised.

I warmly welcome the Secretary of State’s enthusiasm, if I might call it that, for the new nuclear build programme, but he will perhaps be aware that from the public’s perspective, issues surrounding nuclear decommissioning and nuclear waste remain the principal cause for concern about that future new build. Can he offer the House and the public any enlightenment or encouragement that a solution will be found for that difficult issue?

I think that the NDA has made its position clear, and I agree with it that it must prioritise the high safety risks that are part of the legacy of nuclear power in the UK, particularly at Sellafield and Dounreay; that is the right thing to do. I am sure that everyone in the industry, from the head of the NDA right the way through the employment base of nuclear in this country, wants to make sure that we never compromise on safety; so, too, do I.