The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) plans to increase its "frontline resources" by 9-10% each year until 2020, according to its new Strategic Plan. This will enable ONR to "respond positively" to an increase in regulatory demand resulting from the period of "substantial growth" being experienced by the UK nuclear industry.

In 2014, the ONR Board published its Strategy setting out its vision of becoming "an exemplary regulator that inspires respect, trust and confidence". The new plan, which will be reviewed and updated annually, incorporates the earlier Strategy, provides a view of the ONR’s intentions for the next four years and details its planned activities and budget for 2016-17.

As the size of the organisation grows, the ONR’s costs will increase, but it will "continually strive to deliver value for money by seeking a range of efficiencies". These will include "ensuring the ratio of administrative to frontline staff is comparable when benchmarked against other similar organisations", it said. Growth projections will be monitored "to ensure the size of the ONR’s estate portfolio is flexible and responsive to change". In its forecast of costs and income for the duration of the plan against the baseline budget in 2015-16, the ONR noted that the majority of the increases relate to the anticipated growth in the number of nuclear specialists it will recruit.

This growth relates specifically to the anticipated increase in regulatory response to new generic design assessments, applications for new site licences, and new nuclear construction in the civil and defence sectors. Total costs and total income in 2019-2020 are expected to be GBP85.4m ($121.9m), up from GBP64m in 2015-2016. The ONR’s total budget expenditure in 2016-2017 is expected to be GBP68.8m, of which GBP43.5m will be spent on staff pay.

The ONR is funded through cost-recovery from duty-holders – 96% in 2015-16 – and a grant from government. ONR said it will seek to reduce its reliance on the grant "by exploring the extension of charging to those areas of regulation that are not already cost recoverable".

ONR’s business plan for the 2016-17 financial year includes "influencing improvements in nuclear safety and security". This entails "continuing to deliver effective, prioritised, targeted and proportionate regulation across all programs; publishing the chief nuclear inspector’s Summary Program Plan, which sets out the ONR’s high-level regulatory milestones for 2016-17; bringing together and clarifying guidance on enabling regulation by March 2017, and beginning to embed the approach across the organisation".

It also includes "inspiring stakeholder respect, trust and confidence", which will involve "providing expert advice to the Department of Energy and Climate Change on the efficacy of the civil nuclear regulatory framework in accordance with DECC’s timetable; publishing a stakeholder engagement strategy to direct the delivery of improved opportunities to gather stakeholders’ views, and to facilitate the embedding of the ONR’s enabling approach to regulation; improving the clarity and purposes of the ONR’s international engagement activity to secure the best outcomes for nuclear safety and security in the UK and globally".

It further involves "embedding the new arrangements for managing regulatory research and evaluate outcomes against research strategic objectives; developing and maintaining a national framework of incident reporting for the areas relevant to the ONR as recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Integrated Regulatory Review Service Mission; delivering a program of operationally independent reviews to provide assurance to the chief nuclear inspector, the ONR Board and Audit and Risk Assurance Committee that the ONR’s regulatory decision making is robust and compliant with published standards and guidance".