The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) on 16 December announced plans to align its leadership structure to other nuclear regulators around the world with a new combined post of Chief Nuclear Inspector/Chief Executive.

Chief Nuclear Inspector Mark Foy will take up the new combined post, subject to detailed government approvals, supported by current Deputy Chief Executive, Sarah High. A new senior regulatory role, Executive Director of Operations/Deputy Chief Inspector, will also be established. The exact timescales have yet to be confirmed, but the changes will come into effect in 2021.

Under existing contractual arrangements, current CEO Adriènne Kelbie CBE was always expected to step down as her extended term of office ends in January 2022. ONR says the change reflects its “successful transition into a mature and high performing organisation since becoming an independent Public Corporation in 2014”.

Since then, ONR has established and developed the organisational functions and systems required of a standalone corporate body. This means it is now able to implement changes to the leadership structure that further integrate its regulatory work and corporate operations, as recommended from the 2008 government-sponsored Nuclear Regulatory Review.

ONR Chair Mark McAllister said: “Our current leadership arrangements have served us well. We have developed a strong, cohesive leadership team and the right building blocks to take our organisation forward. “Under Adriènne’s leadership since 2016, we’ve come a long way, becoming a mature organisation with the infrastructure required to operate as a self-standing regulator with a healthy and inclusive culture.”

He added that the Chief Nuclear Inspector (CNI) role had broadened to incorporate a strong command of corporate priorities. “Now is the right time to adopt a leadership structure that further integrates and aligns our functions. This new leadership model will support us to deliver our 2020-25 Strategy and continue to protect society by securing safe nuclear operations, now and in the future.”

The ONR was established as an independent statutory public corporation in 2014, following Tim Stone’s 2008 Nuclear Regulatory Review, conducted on behalf of the government, which recommended the creation of a single industry-specific regulator. The ‘Stone review’ also envisaged the CNI as the most senior leader, but a CEO role was also established to develop the required infrastructure and lead the newly-formed organisation through its transition and early years.