Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140-148)|
TUESDAY 9 JULY 2002
140. Nirex itself recognises the historical
package that it carries. They believe that independence will be
the way forward to ensure that. As I said earlier, I think I am
correct in saying that public confidence is something that you
all aspire to. Surely this will be the first start to see that
by becoming independent.
(Dr McKeown) I do not think we are arguing with you.
All we are saying is that if there is a process in place to review
it we have no difficulty in waiting for that process to complete
and supporting whatever the conclusion is.
141. So at the moment, just so that we get this
right for the record, you do not wish to express a view; you will
wait and see what everybody else says?
(Dr McKeown) No. What I am saying is that there is
a consultation going with DEFRA.
142. What is your view on the consultation on
the independence of Nirex? Support it or not?
(Dr McKeown) My main objective is to make sure that
there is a disposal route for the wastes that Nirex is responsible
for. If, in making them independent, that would facilitate that,
then I am for it.
(Mr Tunnicliffe) The present role of Nirex is modest
and, providing it is done transparently and is well understood
and so on, we are indifferent to ownership and control. The key
issue is the long term issue about disposal routes. There we are
not at all clear who should be in charge of that but it seems
to us that clearly it has got to be in the LMA's general overview.
It is no good going ahead with these programmes if somebody is
not tackling the disposal routes. That is the key challenge. What
mechanism those disposal discussions are held in is of course
the challenge of the DEFRA consultation.
143. Can I go on to something slightly different?
In the case of the UKAEA Police Authority do you support the White
(Mr Tunnicliffe) Basically yes. The present situation
with a smallish player running it is anomalous and we are very
comfortable with the proposals to make it an independent force.
Our concerns in the future will be that it continues to provide
a good service for us.
144. And you believe that it will be beneficial
because hopefully we should see some more transparency in the
bidding process as well?
(Dr McKeown) Yes.
145. So at least we can get one?
(Dr McKeown) Yes.
146. The White Paper says that competition will
be central to the LMA's approach. Mr Tunnicliffe, you said earlier
about being a supplier of choice. Initially it is going to be
assumed that BNFL and yourselves will get the managing contracts,
but what do you feel about other players coming into the market?
Are you confident you can keep it?
(Mr Tunnicliffe) I think weighing up the areas where
competition is mentioned, the key area where large monies are
spent in this industry is amongst the sub-contractors who supply
the site licensees or, in our case at least, actually do the doing
for the site licensees. I believe much of the reference to the
value of competition is in that area. When it comes to the competition
for site licences the White Paper is less clear in its outcome
because it does say fairly flatly that providing we can show that
we have improved and continue to improve such that they are confident
that we should be the supplier of choice to the LMA, so be it,
and indeed in those circumstances they would see perhaps some
value in us partnering with parts of the private sector for other
sites. Our objective will be in a sense for ourselves not to become
a question but so to provide the service to the LMA for our own
sites in that initial period that we become their supplier of
choice. I am not saying that we cannot envisage mechanisms where
that competition will not happen but our first objective is to
provide through efficiency, through cost effectiveness, through
safety, through public assurance, so that we are the supplier
of choice for our present sites.
147. Thanks very much, gentlemen. That is very
helpful. We appreciate that you came at fairly short notice. If
you have any other points you would like to send on to us we will
be more than happy to receive them.
(Dr McKeown) We are very happy with what we have said.
We do have an easy to read version of our corporate plan which
we think is very apposite at this moment and we will be sending
you copies tomorrow.
148. That is very helpful. Thank you very much.
I am not quite sure if the Committee will return to Dounreay.
Some of them feel that it is a threat that I have over their heads
but we certainly have enjoyed our visits there in the past and
we know that there is a changing story to be told, so it may be
that before too long we will see you.
(Mr Tunnicliffe) You will be most welcome.
5 See also UKAEA's comments about Nirex in its
Supplementary Evidence: Appendix 5. Back