The UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) on 5 January released for formal consultation its draft Strategy and Business Plan for 2016-2019 which reflect the NDA’s five-year budget as determined through the government’s November Spending Review.

The Strategy is published every five years while the Business Plan is published annually, looking at the next three years of activity together with the associated funding. The consultation period for both documents will end on 15 February. CEO John Clarke said the NDA had been able to offer savings of around £1bn ($1.5m) over the Spending Review period and has secured over £11bn of grant funding for the next five years.

An early version of the draft Strategy was published last September for a period of informal engagement with stakeholders including NDA Site Stakeholder Groups, trade unions, local authority representatives from England, Wales and Scotland, and its subsidiaries and Site Licence Companies (SLCs). In its response to the comments it received, NDA concluded that "the overall direction of travel for the draft Strategy is correct".

The draft Business Plan for the next three years contains total planned expenditure for 2016/2017 of £3.2bn, down from GBP3.3bn in the 2015-2016, Of this, £2.3bn will be funded by government and £900m by income from commercial operations. Planned expenditure on site programmes will be GBP3bn, while non-site expenditure is expected to be £200m. Income is expected to be £949m, compared with £1.2bn in 2015-2016. The NDA expects to publish the finalised Business Plan by the end of March.

Planned expenditure by site includes: Sellafield GBP2bn; Magnox GBP550m; Dounreay Site Restoration Limited £177m; Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) £68m; Capenhurst Nuclear Services (owned by Urenco) £49m; and Springfields Fuels (owned by Westinghouse Electric) £33m. From the start of the next financial year, Sellafield will become a subsidiary of NDA.

Consolidation of the updated Magnox plan – incorporating what was Research Sites Restoration Limited (RSRL) following last year’s competition, together with the funding provided in the Spending Review – "will allow the delivery of significant benefits from this revised programme approach", Clarke said.

The planning and execution of the transportation of a range of nuclear materials from Dounreay will continue as a priority activity, he said. The recent announcement by LLWR that the Environment Agency has approved the application for a revised Environmental Permit means NDA can now, subject to planning consent, make decisions on lifetime capacities rather than annual disposal limits, he noted.

In its Draft Strategy, NDA says that early decommissioning plans "inevitably focused on site-by-site solutions", which was reflected in its first Strategy, effective from April 2011. Then, "more sophisticated generic approaches were introduced to improve the delivery of our mission and secure best value for money".The strategy identifies five areas under which it has grouped all its activities: site decommissioning and remediation; used fuel management; nuclear materials; integrated waste management; and critical enablers. As well as changing the management model at Sellafield, NDA also changed its contracting approach at Capenhurst in 2012. "Following a significant transformation and transition process", the site was transferred to Urenco along with the existing activities. Additionally the NDA and Urenco signed agreements for the deconversion of its uranium hexafluoride management facility constructed at the Capenhurst site. These agreements reduced the NDA’s net liabilities and enabled Urenco to invest in new facilities on the Capenhurst site.

"All of these arrangements are designed to endure for the lifetime of this Strategy and beyond. However the recent decision for model change at Sellafield has highlighted the importance of providing an agile response to changing Strategy in support of our SLCs," the NDA said. "Meanwhile other projects, apart from those relating directly to the SLCs, may come onto the horizon, (e.g. plutonium re-use), which would entail major procurement."

In terms of continuing contract management, the LLWR contract has been renewed with a revised fee structure taking on board the lessons learnt from the first five years of operation, the NDA said. "The contract is designed to increase alignment with our long-term objectives. In particular fee earning is now based on the achievement of targets. It reflects LLWR Limited’s contribution to the national low level waste (LLW) programme as well as to the running of the Low Level Waste Repository at Drigg," it said, adding that this contract will be up for renewal in 2018.

Regarding supply chain development, NDA said that, since its previous Strategy, two significant external developments had occurred -the global financial crisis, "which has led to an increased focus on collaboration, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the UK Growth agenda", and also the UK’s nuclear new build programme.

"Our supply chain development initiatives have resulted in a collaborative procurement programme amounting to £2.8bn of spend and delivering over £140m savings since 2010. We have provided suppliers with access to even more information (e.g. annual procurement plans and early market engagement sessions) to enable better planning," the NDA said. The finalised Strategy will be published in April.