Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Watson Burton Is Nuclear Option; ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Watson Burton Is Nuclear Option; ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

Article excerpt

THE Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is driving forward the largest environmental restoration programme in Europe.

It is also tackling one of Britain's most technically challenging responsibilities - the decommissioning and clean-up of the UK's civil nuclear legacy.

The NDA has chosen Watson Burton to provide UK-wide employment advice, against strong national competition from London and the regions. The law firm is also advising NDA through the human aspects of organisational change.

Rob Higgins, Head of Legal at NDA said: "Watson Burton's exceptional expertise in complex employment law shone through from the outset. The astute, proactive approach of Chris Graham and his team is an important asset for our organisation."

GROWING STRENGTH The NDA has built strong momentum in its first six years. It has generated over pounds 7bn in commercial income and made efficiency gains worth hundreds of millions of pounds and stayed within budget. The Authority has accomplished all this while having to adapt to a recession by restructuring its organisation, which has included tough decisions about present and future priorities.

Rob Higgins said: "NDA, although in the public sector, is a client organisation with many contractual relationships involving private sector companies which carry out duties on our sites. We have a statutory responsibility to ensure this work is completed well and safely, but don't own the agencies that carry out the duties.

"Delivery is complex because of the number of parties involved. Unlike private sector projects, when the main parties - client, funders, contractors - are all motivated by a shared desire to complete a contract profitably, we have different priorities. We are managing a huge programme and need to show good governance at every stage and that value for money is being delivered.

"The many parties involved with the NDA -- from the Treasury through suppliers to local residents - have radically varying outlooks. We are dealing with public money and have to keep that at the front of our minds at all times."

NUCLEAR LEGACY The authority is now working with the legacy of a major UK-wide civil nuclear power programme. Between 1953 and 1971 26 reactors were built across the UK together with reprocessing plants storing and treating spent fuel from UK and foreign customers.

In 2005 the NDA took over responsibility for sites formerly owned by British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL) and United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). One of the problems it encountered was that there was little detailed information about the older facilities and a lack of reliable design drawings.

It is also putting in place Government policy on the long-term management of nuclear waste. …

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