Office for Nuclear Development

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Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of SpinWatch.

Contents

Background

The Office for Nuclear Development (OND) was created in September 2008/9. 'It focuses on removing potential barriers to investment, and signals clearly to the industry the serious intent of the Government to push forward nuclear new build'. [1]

‘Maximum support’ for nuclear

The OND’s website says it is "facilitating new nuclear investment in the UK", by:

  • enabling operators to build and operate new nuclear power stations in the UK from the earliest possible date
  • enabling new nuclear to make the fullest contribution it is capable of, with no public subsidy, and with unnecessary obstacles removed
  • building and maintaining the UK as the best market in the world for companies to do business in nuclear power, without subsidy
  • maximising the ability of UK firms to take advantage of the UK-and-worldwide nuclear programme
  • working with industry and others to meet new nuclear skills requirements and to develop a globally competitive UK supply chain.[2]

It is advised by the Nuclear Development Forum (NDF), which was launched on 18 September 2008. [3]

In the press release announcing the launch, John Hutton pledged his “maximum support” for nuclear power, adding that “energy from new nuclear generators is absolutely indispensable for keeping the UK's lights on, reducing our dependency on foreign oil and gas, and cutting carbon emissions”. [4]

Senior staff

Its senior staff are:

  • Mark Higson, Chief Executive, Office for Nuclear Development: a career civil servant who joined the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) to head up its nuclear energy team in September 2006. Before this he was deputy CEO of the Shareholder Executive, the organisation responsible for discharging the shareholder role for Government-owned businesses, working initially on the creation of the organisation in the Cabinet Office and then subsequently to lead the shareholder role on Royal Mail, BNFL and the UKAEA.
  • Hergen Haye, New Nuclear and Strategy: joined the then Department of Trade and Industry in 2001, working on competition policy, European energy policy and distributed energy policy before joining the OND in 2012.[5]
  • Peter MacDonald, GDF and International
  • Stephen De Souza, Waste & Safety Policy[6]

When it launched, its senior staff were: [7]

  • Mark Higson
  • Adam Dawson, who joined BERR’s Nuclear Unit in November 2006, having previously worked on the DTI's Business Support Simplification project. He joined the Civil Service in 2005, after 19 years with Shell.
  • Dr Mel Draper, who has been head of non-proliferation work at DTI/BERR since 2003. Before that he was head of central policy and support at the UK Health & Safety Executive. From 1995-2000 he was responsible for the sponsorship of UKAEA, residual interests in AEA-Technology, and general nuclear waste and decommissioning policy.
  • Nicola Baggley, Director of Strategy: prior to joining the OND, Baggley was in the Government's Shareholder Executive where she worked on a number of portfolio companies including British Energy, the Ordnance Survey and the Royal Mint. Previous posts include the restructuring of British Energy and a secondment to investment bank Lazard & Co.
  • Tim Stone, Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State for BERR and to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury on new nuclear power: he is the Chairman and founder of KPMG's Global Infrastructure and Projects Group.
  • Mark Ferri: he was a senior executive on the Rocky Flats Decommissioning Project and then was named Chief Executive for CH2M Hill on the Savannah River Project. He is a previous Vice-President for Entergy, one of the largest US nuclear utilities, and spent over 10 years with Bechtel Power Corporation in various managerial positions involving design, construction and commissioning of nuclear power plants.
  • Derek Lacey joined the Nuclear Unit in May 2008 from the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Directorate which he joined in 1991 after 7 years in nuclear research and development.

In June 2012 DECC was advertising for a senior Adviser to the Secretary of State and to the Office of Nuclear Development (Contract value:£70,000 – £80,000). [8]

Protecting the nuclear industry from bad news

In July 2012, The Guardian revealed OND emails that revealed how it worked closely with E.ON and RWE to soften the impact of a major blow to plans for a new nuclear programme.

E.ON and RWE announced on 29 March 2012 that they were abandoning plans to build two nuclear power stations at Oldbury in Gloucestershire and Wylfa in Anglesey. The decision was blamed on the German government's retreat from nuclear power after Fukushima and doubts about financing.

Shortly before the decision was announced, the OND's Hergen Haye wrote to the firms to asked if he could be informed when they had told Labour's first minister for Wales, of their decision.

Haye said in his letter this was "in order for us to share our press lines to co-ordinate a united message". The companies' proposed press statements looked "broadly fine", he said, but promised to forward "any detailed comments". He asked about "engagement plans and timing" for telling local authorities. "Also we have been thinking about some difficult/defensive line issues and would be grateful for sight of what you may say," he said.

He also wanted to know how the companies would respond to journalists questioning whether the UK government could have done something differently to prevent the pull out. "Do you think it is possible for new nuclear to be built in the UK?" Haye asked.

In response to the article, Greenpeace accused ministers of trying to mislead the public.[9]

Sharing intelligence with the industry

In December 2011, The Guardian revealed how the OND was "quietly exchanging intelligence on key policies with multinational companies in an effort to protect and promote their plans for new nuclear power stations".

It shared information about the handling of the EDF's application to build the first of the new nuclear stations at Hinkley Point, in Somerset.

It also sent EDF and the Nuclear Industry Association details of its court battle against Greenpeace, which is trying to block the Government's nuclear plans.[10]

Living the high life

Martin Higson, Dawson and Draper hit the headlines in February 2008 when The Independent revealed they had all enjoyed extensive hospitality from the nuclear lobby. [11]

The three - Higson, Dawson and Draper were also amongst senior civil servants who were wined and dined over 30 occasions in the department's first five months at some of London’s most prestigious restaurants by companies with a vested interest in nuclear.

Energy companies, nuclear contractors, trade bodies, accountants, corporate strategists and legal firms took Higson and other key directors to some of London’s most exclusive venues. Bechtel, the engineering giant, paid for a reception at London’s exclusive OXO Tower, Alstom bought dinner at Madame Tussauds, while British Energy entertained three senior civil servants at a recent Burns supper at the Caledonian Club. Meanwhile, a Dutch nuclear company part owned by BNFL paid for drinks and dinner in the Netherlands. [12]

In November 2012 an investigation by Spinwatch revealed that the OND's top officials continued to enjoy what some would see as excessive hospitality from an industry they are meant to regulate. Since the Coalition Agreement was signed in May 2010, Mark Higson and two other senior OND officials have been wined and dined over 50 times by nuclear companies or those with a stake in nuclear new build, including pro-nuclear pressure groups, law firms and accountancy firms. [13]

Higson, the Chief Executive of the OND has enjoyed dinners at some of London’s most exclusive culinary establishments where celebrities and businessmen mingle. These include the five Star Grosvenor House Hotel, where starters include oysters and caviar, and the Five Star Berkeley, just a stone’s throw from Sloane Square, whose infamous Blue Bar boasts some of the finest imaginative cocktails, vintage champagnes and selection of malt whiskies in London.
With stunning views over the Thames, the Royal Horse Guards Hotel, is another hotel famed for its chandeliers and luxury. It is here that Higson has enjoyed lunches, drinks and dinners in exclusive surroundings. He has also been entertained under the stunning soaring eight-storey glass roof atrium at the Winter Garden, where “cutting-edge gastronomy” dinner menus are in the region of £100.
Hergen Haye, who is in charge of new nuclear build at the OND, meanwhile has tucked into breakfast at the Cinnamon Club, and lunch at the Forge at Covent Garden, where there are over 500 wines to choose from. He has received dinners at the exclusive Reform Club in Pall Mall, where annual membership is just under £1,500 and the Cavalry and Guards Club, which offers seven banqueting suites to choose from in its exclusive Mayfair surroundings. Officials from the Department have also attended "receptions" at the RAC Club, the Houses of Parliament, the House of Lords, the Royal Society and the Science Museum.
This hospitality is part of a multi-million pound lobbying effort by the nuclear industry to become a central tenet of the Coalition government’s low carbon energy. It seems to have paid off. [14]

Nuclear Development Forum

In 2008, at the same time as the Office for Nuclear Development was launched, John Hutton launched the Nuclear Development Forum, which “brings together top figures from across the nuclear industry to support and advise the new Office for Nuclear Development in creating the right conditions for new nuclear power stations to be built in the UK as soon as possible”. [15]

Another flawed consultation

In 2007, the High Court ruled that the Government’s plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations were “unlawful” and the way it consulted with the public over the decision was “misleading, seriously flawed, manifestly inadequate and procedurally unfair”. [16]

A year later, the Government faced more accusations that a fresh round of consultations were unfair.

In September 2008, the OND ran a series of consultations to determine the criteria for siting new nuclear power stations. [17] events were held in London, Manchester and Bristol. [18]

Even though the event was publicised through a publicly-accessible website,[19] when a freelance reporter working for NuclearSpin and Private Eye applied to go he was barred the night before and told by BERR that he wasn’t a 'stakeholder' in the debate. [20]

An article in Eye commented: “The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform clearly believes that the protest group Parents Concerned About Hinkley Point isn’t a stakeholder group either – even though it sits on the official site stakeholder group for Hinkley Point in Somerset. The group has made a formal complaint to BERR to ask why it was not invited.” [21]

Delegate lists for the three events shows that out of the 117 attendees the vast majority were representatives from nuclear companies, their lobbyists and their consultants, along with their regulators. Only a handful of those opposed to the plans to build new nuclear stations made it in.[22]

The presentation given by BERR at the events can be viewed here (Powerpoint file).

The Strategic Siting Assessment Consultation closed on 11th November 2008. You can find submissions from several groups here

Resources

Notes

  1. DECC, Office for Nuclear Development (OND), undated, accessed 4 June 2012
  2. Office for Nuclear Development website, accessed 15 October 2012.
  3. National Archives, The role of the Nuclear Development Forum, 18 September 2008.
  4. BERR Press Release ‘New nuclear is indispensable, Hutton tells top energy meeting’, 18 September 2008, accessed 22 September, 2008.
  5. European Nuclear Assembly, Biography of Hergen Haye], 2011, accessed 15 October 2012
  6. DECC corporate organogram, DECC, undated, accessed 12 October 2012
  7. ‘Office for Nuclear Development: top level organogram’ (pdf file), BERR Website, accessed September, 2008.
  8. Advisor for the Office of Nuclear Development, Government Online, May 15, 2012, accessed 4 June 2012
  9. Rob Edwards, Emails reveal UK government's moves to protect nuclear power from bad news, The Guardian, 19 July 2012
  10. Rob Edwards, UK government shared intelligence with nuclear industry, documents show, The Guardian, 5 December 2011
  11. Andy Rowell and Richard Cookson, ‘Civil Servants lived the high life courtesy of nuclear lobby’, The Independent, 24 February, 2008.
  12. DECC, Email to Rich Cookson, March 2009
  13. HOSPITALITY REGISTER – OFFICE FOR NUCLEAR DEVELOPMENT 29 Oct 2009 – 29 Oct 2012, published on Scribd
  14. Andy Rowell and Rich Cookson, Nuclear Hospitality of Key Officials Exposed, Spinwatch, 28 November 2012
  15. BERR Press Release ‘New nuclear is indispensable, Hutton tells top energy meeting’, 18 September 2008, accessed 22 September, 2008.
  16. 'Nuclear review 'was misleading', [1], 15 February, 2007.
  17. Strategic Siting Criteria consultation (pdf file), BERR website
  18. ‘Towards a Nuclear National Policy Statement: Consultation on the Strategic Siting Assessment Process and Siting Criteria for New Nuclear Power Stations in the UK’, Glasgows Public Relations website, undated , accessed 20 October, 2008 (cached version (pdf file))
  19. Glasgows website
  20. Private Eye (pdf file), No 1220, 3-16 October, p6.
  21. Private Eye (pdf file), No 1220, 3-16 October, p6.
  22. Delegate lists for the Strategic Siting Criteria consultation events in London (1) and (2), Manchester and Bristol.

Related Articles

The Guardian, 15 February, 2007.

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