House of COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE
INNOVATION, UNIVERSITIES, SCIENCE AND SKILLS COMMITTEE
Wednesday 16 July 2008
DR IAN HUDSON, MR ALEX WALSH, MS FIONA WARE and MR BILL BRYCE
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
Taken before the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee
on Wednesday 16 July 2008
Mr Phil Willis, in the Chair
Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods
Mr Tim Boswell
Mr Ian Cawsey
Dr Ian Gibson
Dr Brian Iddon
Dr Desmond Turner
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Dr Ian Hudson, Engineering, Technology & Skills Director, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; Mr Alex Walsh, Head of Civil Nuclear Programmes, BAE Systems; Ms Fiona Ware, Vice President Operational Excellence and Transformation, AMEC's Nuclear Business; and Mr Bill Bryce, Chair, New Build Working Group, Nuclear Industry Association, gave evidence.
Q92 Chairman: Could I welcome our first group of witnesses to this evidence session on nuclear engineering inquiry as part of our major inquiry into engineering. Dr Ian Hudson, Engineering, Technology & Skills Director, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; Fiona Ware, Vice President Operational Excellence and Transformation at AMEC's Nuclear Business; Alex Walsh, the Head of Civil Nuclear Programmes at BAE Systems, and, last but by no means least, Bill Bryce, the Chair of the New Build Working Group at the Nuclear Industry Association. Dr Hudson, perhaps I could start with you. When we heard from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers they said that "the UK's capacity to build a new generation of nuclear power stations is uncertain." The Royal Academy of Engineering said that "the UK could by no means be self-sufficient in the building of a new generation of nuclear power stations in the timescales required." Last week, however, when we met Professor Billowes from the Dalton Nuclear Institute, he said to us that the UK had not "missed the boat". They cannot all be right or they cannot all be wrong. Who is right?
Dr Hudson: For clarity, the principle interest of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is in decommissioning and clean-up. Within the Energy Act we do not have any formal role in terms of new build. If you take the decommissioning mission and the clean-up mission, we can see some shortages in certain areas, and those areas tend to be areas where we are competing with other industries. In terms of attracting other engineers into the industry and having enough people to do the job, from a decommissioning perspective we do not see any real major shortages right now. We have, however, introduced skills, plans and programmes for the sites that we look after, so we understand the medium to longer term, so that from our perspective we understand the problem well enough that we can take action now.
Q93 Chairman: Are you not hugely complacent? We are talking about a level of decommissioning which this country has never seen before, with virtually all our nuclear power stations over the next ten years being part of that process. At the same time, government is looking at encouraging new build, and perhaps four or even ten nuclear power stations. Are you confident that all those engineers are out there?
Dr Hudson: I do not think we are complacent: I think that would be unreasonable. Three years ago, when we first started with the estate, we asked all our site licence companies to put in place a proper skills strategy which understood the need. For the first time, across all those sites, that strategy is in place. NDA itself is investing over a period of five years around £40 million. Through leveraging and partnering we have doubled that amount. There is an ongoing investment through the site licence companies of around £13.5 million per year, which equates to about £800 per person, and that is probably double the UK average in terms of investment in skills. I do not think we are complacent at all. I think it is important to us. We are starting from a base where we are starting to understand the problem, we are taking action, and we are focusing on working with the rest of the industry to meet those needs as well.
Q94 Chairman: From the rest of the panel, could I have a quick comment on my initial question.
Mr Walsh: I think there is a job of work to be done in developing the bid but it does not mean that it is not addressable. I think that actions are already in place. We are heavily recruiting at the moment and we are heavily training. There are certain contractions happening in other areas of the aerospace industry, for instance, where there are very good structural welding engineers, aeronautical engineers, who have skills which are transferable with a degree of cross-skilling. It is addressable.
Q95 Chairman: It is doable.
Mr Walsh: Yes.
Q96 Chairman: Fiona, is it doable?
Ms Ware: Yes, I think so. We now have long-term visibility for the plans for a number of the programmes: the decommissioning programmes, the new build programme. Having that long-term visibility enables AMEC and other parts of the supply chain to plan to respond to that. We are doing an awful lot of recruitment. We are working with universities and working with schools, trying to encourage people into science and engineering, to make sure that we have the right resources available when we need them.
Mr Boswell: It is obvious there is a big lump of work to do, both in terms of decommissioning and commissioning new build. These are not identical skills but they are related. Two constraints occur to me. One is the time scale. Alex, you said, you have been at this for three years. These things do not happen immediately. Can we be sure that the training, even if it is now being embarked on, will be delivered in time for this additional work? Second, it is not only the training but also the capacity to train. Is that too being addressed?
Q97 Chairman: Bill, could I bring you in on that, please?
Mr Bryce: If I could take you back to your initial question: Is the UK self-sufficient? It obviously is not, because we do not in the UK own a nuclear design, so we therefore have to be dependent on the international nuclear system vendors. That is a good thing because we then join a worldwide club, operating the same type of reactors as many other countries throughout the world. This gives us the benefit of learning (a) from the building of these reactors and (b) from the operation of them.
Q98 Mr Boswell: And pinching their skilled people if required.
Mr Bryce: If we possibly can, yes - or maybe not pinching but interchanging, because there is the opportunity to put people from the UK into some of these other countries with the nuclear vendors or with the utilities. My own company, Doosan Babcock, is owned by Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction of Korea. We are building five nuclear stations in Korea at the moment and we are also supplying the steam generators and pressure vessels to Westinghouse for their China orders and supplying replacement bits into the USA. There is a lot that we can learn by interaction with the international nuclear club. In terms of the resources within the UK, there is a squeeze of resources. No company is sitting with spare people hanging around in the prospect of a project coming in five years time or whatever. However, the industry is gradually building up its confidence, through government initiatives, in the setting of frameworks, et cetera, and this confidence is enabling industry to put more investment into training and into recruitment. It is a hard job - it ain't easy at all - but it is manageable. Provided there is the concerted effort, I think it is going to be capable of being done. We do need continuity. I go back to Ian Hudson, the NDA, and this supply work at the moment. It must continue to do that in a continuous way.
Q99 Chairman: When we were down at a nuclear power station yesterday, we were being told very, very strongly that what were required were engineers - electrical/mechanical/civil engineers - in order to do the major construction, fitting out and running of these major plants. But this comes at a time when there is huge pressure form other sectors of the engineering community. I do not have a clear picture yet as to where all these people are going to come from. We are being told as a committee that there is a huge shortage of engineers now.
Mr Bryce: Maybe not huge, but there is a shortage. There are more severe shortages in some areas than in others. When you talk of engineering, I would like to be clear that we need to talk about the wide spectrum, from the trade skills through to the PhD levels. We require all of these people. We require them in different numbers and we require them at different times. For new build, we do not require a large number of nuclear design engineers because they are going to be internationally designed - for example, one of the nuclear vendors says that by the time we get around to building the first one in the UK, it will be the ninth or tenth that we have built worldwide - but we do need large numbers of general mechanical and electrical and project management people. These are the people who are going to build the things and commission the things. Where are they going to come from? They have all drifted into other industries over the years, and when they see a forward market and career opportunities, they can be attracted back.
Q100 Mr Boswell: Their skills are transferable probably.
Mr Bryce: Many of them are transferable, yes.
Q101 Chairman: You think these people already exist.
Mr Bryce: Some of them do. We need more.
Q102 Chairman: With the greatest of respect, though, that is not the information that seems to be coming in terms of the workforce survey studies. Certainly nuclear engineering, to start with, has an age profile which suggests that a significant number of people are going to retire in the next ten years, and that profile seems to be in every branch of engineering. Are these people going to take pills and become younger?
Mr Bryce: You are correct, and that is why I say that in some areas there are shortages. We need to be taking steps to change that.
Q103 Chairman: Okay. Perhaps I could turn to you, Fiona. In terms of coming back to the nuclear industry, obviously it is an exciting time, if we are to believe that all is going to come to pass, both in terms of civil and in terms of military capacity. What do you think are the largest challenges for the UK nuclear industry over the next 20-30 years?
Ms Ware: It will be dealing with the growth and regenerating an interest in the industry, because it has been a static industry or an industry in decline. I think the industry is now responding. Visibility, again, and commitment to the Government for the sustainability of some of these longer-term programmes makes it a more exciting industry, and I think that makes it more attractive to bring more people into the industry. I do not think that decommissioning is seen as particularly exciting to a large number of the population; whereas new build is more exciting, is more attractive to bring people into the industry. One of our challenges will be to attract people into the industry.
Q104 Chairman: Dr Hudson, there seems to be a view that, because of a lack of commitment to new nuclear build over the last 15 or 20 years, we have lost that attractiveness, that capacity. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the nuclear industry as you see them at the moment?
Dr Hudson: There are a couple of strengths. To build on something Fiona said: if you look at the decommissioning industry, I would say that about five years ago the interest was not particularly great. When the NDA came on the scene you could see some things change. For instance, for the Masters degree in Decommissioning Engineering at Lancaster the intake has been trebled over the last few years, just because of the interest alone. If you look at the attractions for the industry, the first thing is that the industry offers long-term career opportunities, not just in decommissioning but across a range of operations - so that is quite important; it is an international business; and, also, it sits between government and commercial. It is quite interesting: you can experience commercial opportunities, commercial innovation, you can work with government, and you can work with the regulators, so the diversity of challenge is quite significant. With all the positive press that is associated with nuclear at the present moment in time, we are seeing a renewed interest. To some extent, from a decommissioning perspective, there is this sort of magnifying effect which we can see in some of our graduate programmes. For our nuclear graduate programme we had over 1500 people apply, and we had about ten or 12 places; in the second tranche we are up to past 700, again for about ten or 12 places. Just for that particular scheme alone you can see that interest ratcheting up.
Q105 Chairman: Is it the same for BAE Systems? Would you echo that?
Mr Walsh: It is not necessarily the new build which has made the industry unattractive. I went to university in 1979. That was just after Three Mile Island had happened. I decided to do a nuclear engineering degree because I considered it to be the "green" thing to do at the time. After Three Mile Island there was a big swing in public opinion.
Q106 Chairman: Slightly, yes.
Mr Walsh: I remember the nuclear engineers were the pariahs of the college. The number of youngsters who wanted to go into nuclear engineering fell off. The nuclear engineering degrees shut down before the end of the new build with Sizewell B. There was a real public swing which said that this was not an industry that you would want to get into if you were a youngster, so I do not blame the stopping of new build for the youngsters not coming in. I think we have to show that it is an attractive industry. It is a very green industry. That is the type of thing which will appeal to the youngsters and start to attract them into the industry.
Q107 Dr Gibson: I do not have a picture of how many people you think you might need to do the work that the Government are giving you. Are we talking about thousands of people? Hundreds? Somebody must have done the sums, surely. There must be some strategy, at least, somewhere.
Mr Walsh: In Sizewell B during the construction, at the peak there were about 3,000, but most of those were general engineers, civil contractors and the like, but then you would have the supply chain as well that supports that, which would probably multiply it out - I do not know, but I would guess - to 20,000.
Q108 Dr Gibson: Come on, you guys should know. You are in charge of the whole business, are you not? Who knows?
Dr Hudson: I can offer a view from a decommissioning perspective.
Q109 Dr Gibson: A view? I want the facts.
Dr Hudson: I can give you some information. On the back of the skill strategy that we have, we have about 20,000 people across all our site licence companies. Around 25% of those are engineering graduates and then 48% of those would be technical. If you map that out over the next 15-20 years, you can see a steady decline to about 2015 from our mission, then you see quite a marked reduction from 2015, and then you see another marked reduction from 2020. From an MDA perspective across those site licence companies, we can map those figures out, and we can map the technical competencies across that. Those are facts and those are based on the lifetime plans. Invisible within those plans are the various scenarios that may come out of government policy, and the decommissioning of subsequent British Energy reactors and MoD decommissioning as well. Those are not in our plans.
Q110 Dr Gibson: Are you recruiting? Are nuclear engineers being recruited?
Dr Hudson: We are recruiting.
Q111 Dr Gibson: Where are the adverts? In The Sun, in the Mirror?
Dr Hudson: We are recruiting. We take about 170 graduates a year. The strategy we have taken with the nuclear graduate scheme is not to be advertising in places like the Times or the Telegraph but to work with the career services in universities and to get the message out through that. We had an event about two weeks ago, where there were 170 people from the range of universities across the UK, and something like 25 or 30 industries from the nuclear footprint as part of the event. It was starting to build that relationship. For instance, on the nuclear graduate scheme, the numbers I told you about were without the advertising in the Telegraph; they were all about building the relationship with the academics and the students. It is a different approach.
Q112 Dr Gibson: Are you confident that you are going to get home-grown students? Are you going to get your workforce from people from the universities and other places, or are you having to do like the football teams do and go abroad to get three-quarters of the team?
Dr Hudson: From the clean-up perspective, we have attracted enough people from the home-grown talent. You can see that in the graduate schemes. We do get enough people like that. We also get the attraction of international people as well. If you take the recent contract award at Sellafield, it is only a small number - you are talking about a number of 20 or so in terms of the senior management team - but through that contract they bring people who are called enhancers, who come in for periods of up to two years to work with the local population, transfer some of those skills, and then go off, leaving the skills behind. It is always an issue in terms of getting local home-grown talent. In decommissioning it is different: we do not have the same constraints as the military perspective. I d not know if any of my colleagues can offer a view about that, but from a decommissioning perspective we do okay.
Mr Bryce: I can quantify it a bit. Excluding the military side, which Alex may be able to enlarge on, there are currently about 40,000 people in the UK employed in the nuclear industry directly, and then there are another 80,000 to 100,000 covering the support to the generating stations, clean-up. There is really not a lot going on in new build at the moment. As time progresses, that number is going to reduce, as Ian has indicated, but then the new build programme is going to start taking in, we hope. For a new build programme, excluding those things that the UK cannot supply - for example, the reactor pressure vessels and the turbo generators will need to be imported - typically we are talking of probably about 1,000 to 2,000 jobs in the manufacturing industry, we are talking of about 3,000 jobs on the site construction - these are direct jobs - and, along with that, probably about 50% more in supporting them. When we come to the operation, we are talking of probably 300 people full-time, operating a new nuclear station, with about 100 to 200 in support - that is coming from the contractor support - and then another 1,000 people in the community getting indirect jobs.
Q113 Dr Gibson: Would you put your salary on the fact that you are going to get these? Do you think the educational systems and so on are up for it?
Mr Bryce: No, we are going to have to compete for many of these jobs.
Q114 Mr Boswell: Internationally?
Mr Bryce: Internationally, yes, for a lot of the manufacturing work. For the site installation work, we would expect UK industry ought to be in a preferred position, because we do not see the nuclear vendors at Westinghouse or Areva importing large quantities of blue-collared workers. Once again, we are going to have to compete for it, and we are going to have to have these people, and, generally, the industry is addressing the recruitment. If I could mention my own company again, we have a very intensive recruitment and training campaign that is including people from overseas; targeting the Armed Forces looking for Army, Air Force and Navy veterans; and targeting schools, getting in at the secondary school level, and all the other members of the Nuclear Industry Association are doing similar things. With that sort of effort - and, as I said earlier, it is not easy, we have to keep pushing it - we should be able to take a fair share of this work.
Q115 Dr Gibson: Do you think people from abroad are just more skilled than our people at the minute?
Mr Bryce: No, I do not think so. We have been importing quite a number of people from Poland and from Portugal. Their qualifications are not totally interchangeable, particularly for putting them on to nuclear plant, and we have had to do additional training and additional certification to use them on nuclear plants.
Q116 Chairman: In terms of the very top skills, the sort of PhD-level nuclear scientists and nuclear engineers that we are going to need on a whole range of different projects, niche people, where are we going to get those from? They are not coming from our universities at the moment?
Mr Bryce: Not at the moment, but I think in a few years time they are going to come.
Q117 Chairman: Dr Gibson's question is really quite specific. You seem to be saying that there is a market out there. Like Manchester United or Chelsea or Dundee United will simply go and get the best players - it is just an in joke -----
Mr Bryce: I hope we are going to be more successful than Dundee United!
Q118 Chairman: What is industry doing to make sure that UK plc has these people? Or is it just down to the university system?
Mr Bryce: No, I think the industry is importing some of these people. They are working overseas, because this is an international market.
Chairman: I have got that point, but what are we doing to get indigenous, UK people?
Q119 Dr Gibson: Are you paying their PhD studentships for them? Are you paying off their student debts?
Mr Bryce: Are we, as my company?
Q120 Dr Gibson: Yes.
Mr Bryce: I do not think we are.
Mr Walsh: We are not paying off their student debt; we are paying good wages to graduates coming in. During the last year we have recruited five graduates specifically into the nuclear area and we have put in for a nuclear engineering training.
Q121 Chairman: I am talking now not about graduates. I am talking about post-docs.
Mr Walsh: We have taken one in.
Q122 Chairman: One.
Mr Bryce: Our first PhD student this year into the nuclear area. We have taken in three people with a Masters degree. They are coming through things like Birmingham's Physics, Technology and Nuclear Reactors course. That is a very good course.
Q123 Dr Gibson: Are you excited by having four new people?
Mr Walsh: Yes, I am. In total, the number of graduates that we have taken on this year is 85. We have taken on 165 apprentices. We have just been out and started recruiting A-level students, to bring them in. If we get our apprentices, we run a high potential apprentice scheme for those top level apprentices we take on and we push through as fast as possible.
Q124 Dr Gibson: There are too many ifs in your answer. You are not sure.
Mr Walsh: I am sure. We do put people through university degrees.
Q125 Dr Gibson: Fiona, you are champing at the bit there. Tell me about Gen-IV. What is happening?
Ms Ware: I will, but perhaps I could go back to what you asked before. AMEC has a long heritage of looking after some of these skills and capabilities from when we built the last fleet of stations. We have put money into the PNTR SME at Birmingham, we provide lecturers at Surrey, and we provide industrial sponsorships to sponsor PhD students. We have recently started participating in the PhD programme. We only took one as a trial, because it was a new programme, but we are planning to take more. We are taking 70 graduate trainees on this year. The majority of those will have a Masters degree. We generally take three or four people a year from the Birmingham Masters degree. Moving on to Generation-IV: participation in the international research programmes is a way that we have managed to maintain and transfer skills. Whilst there has been no new build in the UK, through participation and work on the Gen-IV research programmes, through ITA and JET, the fusion programmes, and also through the European frameworks, those are really good packages of work while we can get our more experienced engineers to transfer their skills to the junior engineers. It is very difficult to do that on commercial contracts because the client will not pay. They will pay for one person to do the work. We have relied heavily on those research programmes, to develop, to maintain and to transfer skills.
Q126 Dr Gibson: What has happened with Generation IV? How much does this industry put in, how much do the Government put in? Do you have to buy your way to the table?
Ms Ware: The Government were due to put in £5 million, but that funding was cancelled last year, which was a disappointment.
Q127 Dr Gibson: That is bad news. How are you going to substitute for that? Are you going to put the money in yourselves? You are going to be a rich industry - or you are a rich industry.
Ms Ware: The difficulty is the long-term nature of it. We ourselves are part of the supply chain but we are not a utility. We do not have the benefit of saying, "We'll invest in future generation reactors because we will get the benefit because it will be our design later." We have taken rather an altruistic view, perhaps, to say that we will do what we can to participate in the programmes because we know that is how we would keep those high level skills alive. It has been very difficult.
Q128 Dr Gibson: But you are not going to get a Christmas card or an invite to the table to talk about these things unless you are paying your whack, basically.
Ms Ware: Yes, and I think we are disadvantaged when you look at other European countries. If you look at France, in particular, they have complementary parallel programmes, so that allows industry access to the extra funding so that they can participate in the programmes. Within the United Kingdom we have an uncoordinated approach and we do not have any parallel programmes, so that makes it more difficult to compete.
Q129 Dr Gibson: What other international programmes are we participating in or should we participate in if we want to get to the top table and get new schemes going and education, your PhD students, and double your numbers from four to eight, for example? You are going to have to get into these international programmes.
Ms Ware: The Government, I believe, are signed up to GNEP. There are no programmes of work yet that have come out of that. We would ask for continued support to that. The Government signed up to Gen-IV and then the funding was not forthcoming, so if we know that -----
Q130 Dr Gibson: Who should foot that bill? Should the Government restore it or should you have some kind of collaboration?
Ms Ware: I would like to see the Government restore that funding.
Q131 Dr Gibson: Of course you would. At the same time, the Government are not going to by the sound of it, are they?
Ms Ware: I do not know. We would like to think so.
Q132 Dr Gibson: Does anybody know? You must know, Bill. You are the boss.
Mr Bryce: Before I answer your question, the thing that is going to set the industry in the UK up for the future is a healthy clean-up programme, successful clean-up and a healthy new build programme. That will start attracting people. There is no point in doing research if we do not have the application of it. Once we have both of those things - and we cannot go into new build sacrificing clean-up. This is very important to all of industry as we go forward, to make sure that we do not pinch the guys from the clean-up side and switch them into new build.
Q133 Chairman: Can you concentrate on the question that was asked.
Mr Bryce: Coming back to the question: with that basis, if we can get ourselves into a sound clean-up and new build programme, people will be attracted into the industry and you will see the numbers increasing quite dramatically.
Q134 Dr Gibson: That is what you are saying.
Mr Bryce: But I think Government are going to have to prime the pumps on these more advanced research programmes. Industry is not going to put its money in at this stage in substantial amounts because it is a long time before payback will be achieved. There are several projects. ITA is one. Gen-IV is another. Industry is somewhat reticent to get involved there because the payback is looking very, very doubtful.
Q135 Dr Gibson: In the long term you are going to need that research, because nuclear plants and styles and so on and the operation change.
Mr Bryce: That is right. That is why I say: get ourselves established with new build of Generation-III and the rest will spin out of that.
Dr Gibson: Good luck.
Q136 Dr Iddon: Is everybody on the panel agreed that the skills required for decommissioning are roughly the same as those required for new build? In other words, if we train people for decommissioning, can we roll them over into new build?
Mr Bryce: There is a lot of new build going on to enable decommissioning to happen. There are several new facilities being built in Sellafield - and Ian can say more about these - and, therefore, these skills can roll over. In fact, they are a bit more critical because the work that is going on in decommissioning is an active plant, a radiologically active plant. There the nuclear disciplines have to be so much more severe because you are dealing with the radioactive conditions. Therefore, all the very stringent nuclear procedures are being learned and practised today in the clean-up process and these will spin over.
Q137 Dr Iddon: Perhaps I ought to turn to Ian. Do you see the NDA's role as partly to enable this roll over from decommissioning to new build? Do you think you have a role to train people through your decommissioning work, so that when new build ramps up we have sufficient skills available?
Dr Hudson: I think that is an interesting question. From an NDA perspective, let me try to answer that in two parts. The first thing is that NDA can only invest to support the clean-up mission in the way set out in the Energy Act, so our investment is around supporting the clean-up mission. We are investing quite heavily, and we can talk about that in a minute. There is a recognition, though, that some of those skills are transferable, and it has happened in the industry. Historically, if you look at the NDA, for instance, we have people who built reactors who are now pulling reactors down. We are focusing on transferable skills which are with the nuclear industry, so when we move people from operations into decommissioning we can get that flexibility of workers, so we are building that into our strategy. But it has to be dead clear, from our perspective, that we do not have a role in respect of new build. We are not allowed to do that.
Q138 Dr Iddon: In their submission BAE has suggested that the UK should ramp up decommissioning work to increase skills in readiness for new build. What sort of assurances would industry need to make significant investments in core staff and facilities?
Ms Ware: In terms of decommissioning, as I said before, we now have visibility of the lifetime plans. Seeing that there are long-term programmes and that there is funding available is enough to encourage the supply chain to respond and to grow the capability. For new build, I think it is government support. The industry suffered during the last period of new build, because we built Sizewell, and there was an expectation that that would be a programme of reactors, and it was only one. A lot of companies prepared themselves and geared up to do that and then the opportunity disappeared. What is required really is a commitment to a programme and the supply chain will respond accordingly.
Q139 Dr Iddon: AMEC have suggested that there should be a stronger interface between the civil and military activities in this area. Security is the obvious barrier, but what other barriers are there? Is the main one security or are there other barriers preventing an interface between civil and military activities?
Ms Ware: Probably there will be commercial reasons. As AMEC, we are part of the supply chain, so we provide resources into all of the sectors, into reactor operations, into clean-up, and into Rolls Royce and AWE. We see there is transferability of skills and we can help in terms of transferring best practice from one section of the industry to the other. From an AMEC perspective, I can comment that skills are transferable. How the sectors work together is probably more a matter for people in the team.
Q140 Dr Iddon: What do the rest of the panel think about this interface. Is it easy to transfer from one sector to another?
Mr Bryce: BAE Systems is heavily involved in the construction of nuclear submarines. That is what we do. There are limitations as to how we can employ foreign nationals on those projects because of the security implications. I personally have worked in the defence industry and in the civil nuclear construction industry and at Sizewell B. Half of the Sizewell B nuclear commissioning team came from America or Czechoslovakia or Spain - from all over the world. The reason for that was that when you are at the commissioning stage and you are on the critical path with one of these projects and the majority of the capital expenditure has gone, you need the best, most experienced engineers with you to mitigate the risk of something going wrong, that programme being held for a day and £1 million of electricity not being generated. You are very keen to have not just qualified engineers but people who have done it before in other power stations. That is why we went around the world. I do not doubt that when we come to do the first power station in this country, at that end of the programme we will have foreign engineers to help us, or we will have needed to take UK engineers, like the CEGB in the 1980s, place those engineers out into foreign construction projects so that they can pick up their experience and bring it back to this country. The other thing that happened at Sizewell was that in 1991, as the Cold War came to an end, the Government made the decision that we did not need as many nuclear submarines. As a result, it retired a bunch of those and an awful lot of nuclear-trained people came out of the Navy. A lot of those nuclear-trained people ended up at Sizewell B, working for me in my nuclear commissioning team. They were excellent. First class. Those skills were perfectly transferable in there and they were some of the core of the nuclear team. Having done one nuclear commissioning, they would have been ideal to have led the next nuclear commissioning in this country. The problem now is that we have a smaller nuclear Navy which is not giving the same amount of retirees coming out to help in that area, and when we go outside and go international, this time to look for those skilled engineers who have done decommissioning before, unfortunately they are going to be employed on the American programmes, because the Americans are looking for 30 power stations, and the Chinese are going to be building. There is a massive demand, so getting those people is going to be an issue. That is why, in my submission, I made the point that we really do need to help industry now get people out on foreign placement into these construction and commissioning projects, so they can bring back experience and be ready for our projects to take off.
Dr Hudson: When you think about skills, once you can get over the security implications from a military perspective, the people are transferable very applicably, as well explained by Alex. Skills are also developed through the use of certain facilities. There are some more subtle issues, in terms of carrying out military programmes and civil programmes in the same building. Whilst it would be nice to get complementary facilities where you can build up some of those skills, you have to think a bit more carefully about how you make those facilities available and use them across the different parts of the industry. It is just that point I was interested in making.
Q141 Dr Iddon: Nobody has mentioned France. They have one of the biggest nuclear fleets. Are they an international outfit working in France? Are they mainly French engineers? Is there any transferability there between our near neighbour and ourselves?
Dr Hudson: I have just a bit of anecdotal information. The French have some good programmes in terms of skills. France is comparable, from a UK perspective, with what we do. I was in the States a couple of months ago and the same issues were being discussed over there, because you have the same issue of the indigenous population, you still need those. Whilst Areva and people like that are active in the States and keen to be part of the nuclear build over in the States, they themselves recognise the fact that they are going to have to work with the local population to build up the skills. You still need to do that from a UK perspective.
Q142 Mr Boswell: I am interested in the relationship between government on the one hand, academia and industry, and whether these are all tuning in together. In AMEC's evidence you refer to "the complexity and number of the public sector ... training initiatives where there is increasing overlap between the remits of the various bodies, and between academia and industry." Could you say rather more precisely what those problems are, and perhaps you could give us some examples?
Ms Ware: When I first got involved with some of these bodies I found it extremely confusing in terms of the remit of the sector skills councils and the overlap between the sector skills councils.
Q143 Mr Boswell: Are there about six in this area, if you tot them all up?
Ms Ware: There is Cogent and the ECITB and the CITB. There is a number and it is quite confusing. We get approached as part of the supply chain by a number of these because AMEC works across a number of sectors. One of the issues is that a lot of the skills are not sector specific, so it is quite confusing. Also, the way that they work is different. Some operate under levies and others are under voluntary contributions.
Q144 Mr Boswell: Do you have the impression that in terms of their influence as sector skills councils they get their act together and unify their offer, or are you always having to negotiate between them in order to fit into their programmes?
Ms Ware: I sit on the Cogent Nuclear Employers Steering Group and that was a way of trying to say that we want the sector skills councils to be more joined up, because they are not, and they do offer different types of training. In the nuclear industry, we have the creation of the Nuclear Skills Academy, which is great. When you look at the agenda that was set out for that, it was set out by industry. When you look at the funding, the funding has been provided by industry, because it is industry-led. If you look at the flipside, with the ECITB, where we are levied - and I can only speak for AMEC personally and, in particular, the nuclear sector - we do not get an awful lot back from that. We do not get involved in setting the agenda. Where industry is driving what is required, the funding will follow, because industry knows what it needs.
Q145 Mr Boswell: To pursue that - and it may be more relevant to another inquiry we are carrying out - at least the rubric is that sector skills councils are industry-led.
Ms Ware: Yes.
Q146 Mr Boswell: Does anyone else want to comment on that sort of perception of SSCs?
Dr Hudson: When I came to the NDA about three years ago, there seemed to be quite a confusing picture around Cogent and the footprint that Cogent had. There was a change in CEO and the regime in Cogent. We sat down and spent quite a bit of time working with them to try to understand what our needs were and what they were trying to achieve. I would say we have worked pretty well with them in respect of helping create the National Skills Academy for Nuclear and built up some of the occupational standards and things like that. I would agree with Fiona, the mixture of different sector skills councils is difficult. If you look at the ECITB situation and NSAN, it seems to me there is a potential policy difference. On the one hand you have NSAN, which is run by the employers or employer-led. They do not deliver skills; they set standards and franchise people to meet those standards. On the other hand, you have ECITB, and they levy. The only way you can get your levy back is by using their products, and they may not necessarily be products that, as employers, we would want. That policy difference is still there.
Mr Bryce: Yes, there should be much more integration. There is a little bit of competition for funds but the different boards, the ECITB, the NSAN, et cetera, are willing to talk with one another. In fact, the NIA is trying to progress that so that we get everybody singing from the same hymn sheet, because they are complementary.
Mr Walsh: The ECITB we use a lot, because of the apprentice training schemes that we run, so they are very important to us. We engaged with Cogent a few years ago and very much the focus of Cogent has been driven by the focus of the industry over the last few years on nuclear decommissioning. That now needs to start swinging a bit more to what is going to be the nuclear new build as well, but that is only natural at this stage of the game, when there are no further orders and we have only just started to see the commitments going forward.
Q147 Mr Boswell: Who is the appropriate body then to rationalise these initiatives? We have identified that there is a bit of confusion. Who is going to blow the whistle on this?
Mr Bryce: That is a difficult question. Cogent is in a position to do this. The NIA has been asked if it could do this but it is quite a big task. The NIA is limited by its funds which come from a subscription from the members. If the members wanted to do this, we would be willing to do it but there would need to be a bit more money put in.
Q148 Mr Boswell: Is that a general view?
Ms Ware: I think it is wider than that because it covers a number of sectors. I think there was a recommendation in the Leitch report that the number of bodies needs to be rationalised. I do not have a short answer as to how we might do that because it goes across a number of industries in a number of sectors, so it is difficult to say one organisation would take that responsibility.
Q149 Mr Boswell: Perhaps I could stay with you and ask, concerning the proposed UK National Nuclear Lab, why you think there will be unfair competition between the academic world and industry.
Ms Ware: The point we are trying to make is that we need to make sure there is not unfair competition.
Q150 Mr Boswell: There does not have to be but there might be.
Ms Ware: Yes. The remit of the National Lab needs to be clear. I think the lab will have a remit to protect and nurture skills, and I think it needs to be very clear that industry also has a role to play and a lot of those skills belong within the supply chain and within industry where they are deployed on real jobs. Whilst we support the need for a national nuclear laboratory and some co‑ordination in terms of some of the research in the programmes because the UK is fragmented, it needs to be clear that this is not just about creating programmes that would sit within academia or within the National Lab but it is about involving and engaging industry to make sure that the skills are transferred into industry.
Q151 Mr Boswell: I notice you nodding, Ian. Is that the view across the panel, that that is the right kind of way to approach this issue?
Dr Hudson: I think so, because you can maintain skills through initiatives such as the National Nuclear Lab but it is quite important that you maintain skills throughout the supply chain as well. You get different approaches. You get a slightly more commercial, innovative approach linked into the supply chain; you are able to take a slightly longer-term view through things like the National Nuclear Lab. I think the National Nuclear Lab needs to have its role linked across the supply chain as well as the academic establishment and operate around that agenda. A lot of the key skills in the National Nuclear Lab were mostly focused around the access to facilities, which are large capital facilities that carry out active work that industry does not tend to have access to because of the huge capital outlay. Making those facilities available into the broader supply chain helps build those skills.
Q152 Mr Boswell: That will be available to anybody, even if they are a comparatively minor subcontractor who could use the large facilities.
Dr Hudson: The aspiration from NDA's perspective is that you give access to the broader supply chain and into the universities. That is the aspiration.
Q153 Mr Boswell: AMEC has called for a demarcation between the application of technology in industry on the one hand and pure research taking place in universities and the National Nuclear Lab on the other. I take it that is, as it were, a management view which is not necessarily uncongenial to the other members of the panel. If we are going to do that, how are you going to bridge the gap? If you are making a conscious separation of mission in that area, how do you integrate the missions as part of the national effort to get nuclear decommissioning and new fleet build at the same time? How do you tune that?
Ms Ware: I think it comes back to being clear about the remit of the National Lab, if some of the programmes are going to be going through there. It is making sure that that industry is involved and it is not in competition with academia. Ultimately the skills need to come through from academia and they need to reside inside the National Nuclear Lab, where their needs will be nurtured if there is not a commercially acceptable way of doing that. If it is commercially viable to do it, then the supply chain is well able to do that itself. I think the role of the lab is to protect some of the skills which are critical. Currently a lot of the programmes do have short term as well as long term, and some of the short-term programmes perhaps do not need those skills. There is a requirement to maintain those, therefore, but I think it is just making sure that with some of the programmes industry gets access to participate, that the skills transfer comes from academia out into industry and that they do not retain them in academia because there is a need to transfer to industry.
Q154 Mr Boswell: The point at which, as it were, the flag drops is with the National Nuclear Lab. Or, rather, it requires the active involvement of the industry as well as the academic world.
Ms Ware: Yes. Absolutely. There needs to be a partnership.
Q155 Mr Boswell: You are nodding, Ian.
Dr Hudson: Absolutely. We have been involved with BERR to support the creation of the National Lab. We see it as very strategically important to us to deliver our mission. Making those facilities available on a national and international perspective is very important.
Chairman: On that positive note, I turn on to Ian Cawsey.
Q156 Mr Cawsey: Thank you, Chairman. Earlier in the session there was a little bit of discussion about the role of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. As you said, it does what it says on the tin, and that is what the Energy Act allows you to do. But of course these things can change, and in a period of new commissioning it might be an appropriate time to change. Would you like to see the scope of the authority broadened? What would be the rationale behind such a move?
Dr Hudson: It is an interesting question and I do not feel particularly qualified to offer a view. I think it is a government decision, so from an NDA position it is not something I would like to speculate on.
Q157 Mr Cawsey: You do not have a personal view on whether it would be helpful?
Dr Hudson: I do not believe I can offer a personal view, sat here on behalf of NDA.
Q158 Mr Cawsey: Does anybody else want to say whether he should be expanded?
Ms Ware: I think that some co‑ordination is required. With the fragmentation of BNFL - and the NDA came in to oversee that - the industry itself has fragmented, so in terms of new build there needs to be some kind of co‑ordination, whether that would go to the NDA or an alternative body.
Dr Hudson: I could offer a view into it. Our skill strategy is to partner with people. For instance, in creating the National Skills Academy for Nuclear, the fact that it covers a nuclear footprint and we are able to participate in that we see as very positive. I think getting more consistent approaches to the skills agenda, getting a consistent approach in terms of understanding needs is important but you do not necessarily have to do that with respect to NDA.
Chairman: You did have a view after all.
Q159 Mr Cawsey: It took Fiona to wheedle the answer out of him.
Dr Hudson: That was not a view.
Q160 How does the authority encourage companies to ramp up the skills base?
Dr Hudson: We have taken a number of things. Skills are important to us, as set out in the Energy Act. It is also important in terms of offering value for money to the taxpayer because it improves the performance. The first thing we have done is to take a strong leadership role. We have set requirements on the site licence companies to develop these skill strategies. They are incentivised to do an effective job on skills, so they gain profit if they do a good job and they lose profit if they do a poor job. We have done that over the last three years to drive that. When we invest in infrastructure - and we have done, for instance, at the high end of skills, such as the PhDs and Masters area - we have tried to do that in partnership with other people. For instance, in partnership with Manchester University, we put in £10 million and they put in £10 million to create an institute in areas of interest to us. We have invested in infrastructure to create a company called Energis. We put £5 million in, but by working with both government and the supply chain we have generated around £20 million to improve the infrastructure. We have taken a mixture of stances. We have taken a very strong leadership stance; we have incentivised it, so it looks important to us; and we have partnered, which is really very important because it improves what we are doing as well.
Q161 Mr Cawsey: You are funding research and new facilities, and the example has been given to us of the Dalton Cumbria Facility. What involvement is there between the authority and industry?
Dr Hudson: Through the site licence companies we invest around £100 million a year. Of the order of £50 million of that goes to the Nexia, which is the precursor to the National Lab, and the balance of that goes into the supply chain, so the supply chain benefits quite significantly from that investment. In terms of things like the Nuclear Institute, we are working with the University of Manchester. The model that we apply is that we invest as a catalyst to create the capability. We focus it on world-class skills and that capability is then able to draw down the money from the industry, from the research councils, and become self-sustaining. It is quite a fine balance and an interesting model, because you invest maybe over five or seven years to create the capability but it becomes self-sustaining by operating in world-class fashion. It is a good model. It was used by BNFL to create some centres at universities. We see that as really good because it allows you to create commercial innovative work as well a long-term commitment to R&D.
Q162 Chairman: Fiona, when you were responding to Tim Boswell you talked about long‑term skills that were not funded by industry but which were of national importance. What were you specifically referring to?
Ms Ware: This is probably going back to when I was in Nexia - I worked in Nexia before I came to work for AMEC - some of the programmes such as the molten salts programme would be a long-term research programme but there was no short-term benefit there. Those projects were not funded through the site licence companies. There are programmes that the NDA will fund now through their research programme, but I think it is making sure that those programmes are available to develop some of the skills which we will require and we will need to maintain but which are not currently required on a commercial basis at the present.
Q163 Chairman: Perhaps you could have a little think about that and then drop us a very brief note about some of those specific skills.
Ms Ware: Yes.
Q164 Chairman: The same with you, Ian, in terms of the decommissioning. Perhaps I could finish this session with you, Ian. We are a little confused about the decommissioning time framework. That was brought home to us at Sizewell B yesterday. Within the next six years there are six nuclear power stations that are going to start their decommissioning programme, that are going to stop producing electricity. What is the length of the decommissioning programme? Perhaps you could put in a note to us on that. What factors are involved in dictating how long and, also, how much it will cost? There seem to be endless time scales for some of these decommissioning programmes and we would like to get a clear handle on that in terms of matching the skills needs to the decommissioning programme.
Dr Hudson: I can write a note to that effect. Generically, what affects time scales is a balance between removing the high hazard part of the plant, which is the fuel, and then making a decision about what the care and maintenance regime might be, what time scales that might be.
Chairman: You indicated earlier, and Fiona picked it up, that you now have clear programmes for decommissioning with proper time lines. It would be really quite useful to the Committee to have those.
Q165 Dr Iddon: I think we should point out, Chairman, that yesterday at Sizewell somebody indicated that the graphite core reactors could be decommissioned in less than ten years. Nine years was quoted.
Dr Hudson: One of the roles that we fulfil on behalf of government is that the lifetime planner approach that we use for our science we apply to British Energy to get a sense of what the liabilities might be in the future. If you would allow me, I can certainly put a note together to that effect.
Chairman: We would be very grateful for that. On that note, could we thank you very much indeed, Dr Ian Hudson, Fiona Ware, Alex Walsh and Bill Bryce.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Adrian Bull, UK Stakeholder Relations Manager, Westinghouse, Dr Mike Weightman, HM Chief Inspector, Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, David Barber, Head of Technical Training, British Energy, and Robert Davies, Marketing Director, Areva, gave evidence.
Chairman: Let me welcome our second panel of expert witnesses this morning: Adrian Bull, the UK Stakeholder Relations Manager for Westinghouse; Dr Mike Weightman, HM Chief Inspector for Nuclear Installations Inspectorate; David Barber, the Head of Technical Training for British Energy, and Robert Davies, the Marketing Director of Areva. Thank you all very much indeed for coming this morning.
Q166 Dr Turner: Part of the torturous timeline for what kilowatt hour is generated in the UK is the Generic Design Assessment of the new nuclear fleet. We have received very little evidence relating to that. Is this because it is a perfect process or are the companies going through the process not wanting to rock the boat?
Dr Weightman: I would never claim any of our processes are perfect. We always seek to improve on them. This is a new process for us that was developed about three years ago. We put it to government after talking to stakeholders and finding out what the issues were. We also took some advantage of an International Atomic Energy Agency peer review of our approach to nuclear regulation in the UK, especially in relation to new build. We were fortunate to have the chief regulator from Finland, for instance, provide us with some advice on that. We then put that documentation forward to the Energy Minister and I can provide Committee members with copies of that documentation. We put forward more detailed descriptions of it for possible vendors and again I can provide the Committee with copies of that as well. I could even give a note summarising it all, if that helps.
Q167 Dr Turner: Why are we doing this specifically as a UK exercise? After all, reactor design and deployment is a fairly international business. Given our strange history of previous nuclear development whereby we managed to produce something exclusively British and, frankly, worse than anybody else's, are we going to be repeating this? Why are we doing it differently to everybody else?
Dr Weightman: I would not say British reactors are worse than anybody else's.
Q168 Dr Turner: They have not lasted as long for starters!
Dr Weightman: My duty is to protect the people and society of the UK and that means making sure that the laws and the safety standards in the UK that are relevant are applied so they can be protected and feel protected as well. That does not mean to say we try and reinvent the wheel. We looked at our safety standards in the UK, which are called our Safety Assessment Principles, and we compared them with the latest international safety standards, both the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Western European Nuclear Regulatory Association reference levels as well, and we revised those and put those down as a basis for us to regulate the industry in all sectors. We have tried to make sure we are up-to-date with the latest safety standards internationally, but there are particular aspects to the UK law and goal setting regime that we have to apply. That is not to say we are not very closely linked with our colleagues who regulate it in other industries internationally. We have agreements with the NRC and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the States. We have been talking to them about seconding people in, getting access to all their information and similarly with the French. In particular, I was talking to André Lacoste the other week about how we could liaise better and how we could get access to their information and we are getting free access.
Q169 Mr Boswell: Given that both in terms of build and to some extent also in operation this is not a national industry, it is an international one, can you give us the assurance that by and large, allowing for differences in, for example, legal structures, the intentions of the major regulators in most of the major countries where there are nuclear installations amount to the same thing, even if the expression of those in terms of GDA or whatever is slightly different?
Dr Weightman: Yes, that is our intention. The goal is the same.
Q170 Mr Boswell: I am not asking you to single out any defaults from that, but broadly that is happening?
Dr Weightman: Yes. Some of the variations will come from what operators want. If you look at the EPR design, some of the requirements that the operators in Finland wanted have made some changes to the cases and bases for the design of the EPR. There are some things coming from operators.
Q171 Mr Boswell: Could there also be some technical constraints, for example, on geological conditions, the likelihood of earthquakes and so forth?
Dr Weightman: The earthquake issue is unlikely to be a large issue in the UK, but there will be variations around there. I am thinking of the AP1000, for instance. When they had to look at that for the US market rather than an overseas market there were some variations they had to do and they put revisions in around that. There is a group called the Multinational Design Evaluation Programme that is put together by all the chief regulators of those countries that do have new nuclear in front of them. What we are seeking to do there is actually work very closely together, not to make use of each other's assessments and some of the assessments are not complete, but also get to a position where I do not have to send my inspectors half-way round the world, for instance, to check out procurement issues on reactor vessels that may be produced in Japan, I can have confidence that the Japanese regulator is looking at that. We are also looking at some of the codes that are used in different countries for pressure vessels and other systems and comparing the use of one in one country with its equivalent in another country. There is quite a bit of work being done around that internationally.
Q172 Dr Turner: Just how much variation is there internationally in standards? The implication is that we are having bespoke systems, if you like, which are likely to add to the cost. Are there any serious questions about international safety standards that mean that we have to do it differently?
Dr Weightman: No. The issue is not that the design may be different, it is a question of how you justify that design. In America they have a very prescriptive nuclear regulatory regime which will mean that the regulator produces detailed prescriptive regulations. We have a very goal setting regime which fits in with our law in the UK. So we ask the question "Why is it safe?" and we expect the vendor to come back to us and say, "It's safe because of these reasons," and give us the rationale for that and then say where the law requires them to reduce risks so far as is reasonably practicable. So we ask the question, "Can you reduce the risks further?" and they will demonstrate to us that they have done the design optimisation, but this is about putting the onus on the operators and on the designers, not on the regulator, to demonstrate safety through a prescriptive regime. It is a different regime. It may be that the design will still meet both requirements.
Q173 Dr Turner: Is there any problem as far as the Nuclear Inspectorate is concerned in getting access to sufficient technical expertise to carry out this process? Can you recruit enough engineers to run this process?
Dr Weightman: I think it is fairly well known that we have struggled with our recruitment campaign and our numbers. We have put out a pretty aggressive recruitment campaign. HSC, my parent body, is looking at that now to try and make sure we can go harder into the market and that is also being supported by government in terms of reviews that they are doing. You may be aware of the Tim Stone Review.
Q174 Dr Turner: How many engineers have you got and how many do you need?
Dr Weightman: I have got 153.25 full-time equivalent inspectors at the moment and in addition to that I have got eight that are being brought up to understand the nuclear industry and nuclear regulation from the rest of HSC where they were specialists. From our first recruitment earlier this year we expect to get another nine in and from just a recent recruitment we expect to get probably around seven in. That will only bring me up into the 170s. For existing predictive business excluding new build I need 192. That is looking at the MoD programme and the decommissioning programme as you go into the future because we regulate MoD facilities as well. Our planning for three designs coming forward eventually -because we have got step-wise in our Generic Design Assessment process - would mean an extra 40 inspectors around that. That is not the whole picture because we have a demographic problem as well. I really look forward to the pills that the Chairman talked about at the start! We have over ten per cent at the moment that are over 60 and that will grow in another year or so to about 20 per cent and two years after it will grow to 30-40 per cent.
Chairman: You are depressing us now!
Q175 Dr Turner: What effect is this going to have on the timescale for deploying new reactors? Is it going to slow the process down because you simply have not got enough people power to throw at the problem?
Dr Weightman: What we did in the GDA process was we stepped it to resource build up to reduce regulator uncertainty as we went forwards and we also managed the project risk associated with it as well. That means that we did complete step two within the proposed timescale with a lot of work and we put 50 reports out into the public domain about that, so about four designs. We have started step three. Those reports were basically saying, in terms of security and nuclear safety, because I also regulate nuclear security, these designs should be licensable in the UK if they meet their claims. We took their claims on face value. Now we are starting to explore the rationale for those claims and the details behind those claims. So we are starting this step three now. We have said that we are going to have a slow start on that because we do not have the resources in place for that, but some other mitigating factors may be that if we get aggressively into the market now we could then attract some more who are step four of the process to see whether we can recapture the lost time that will come from the step three slow start.
Q176 Dr Turner: So there are delays?
Dr Weightman: At the present time. We might manage to actually increase resourcing over our planned resourcing so that we can recapture some of the gains and perhaps we will get more benefits from our interactions with our overseas regulatory colleagues than perhaps we planned for, and there may be other aspects we can do around that.
Q177 Dr Turner: What about the costs of the process? Presumably your costs are borne by the public purse?
Dr Weightman: No, not at all.
Q178 Dr Turner: Could you tell us about the cost structure?
Dr Weightman: There are two aspects to that. Under the Nuclear Installation Act our normal cost for our work on licensed facilities is all recovered from industry plus all the overheads. Around 95 to 97 per cent of our costs are recovered from industry through the Treasury, et cetera. In terms of new build and Generic Design Assessment they are not licensees so we cannot recover them under the Nuclear Installation Act, but what we did do is we got the fees regulations changed to make sure that we can recover our costs on a similar basis from the vendors and that is what is happening now. Our costs are not recovered from the public purse.
Q179 Dr Turner: We still do not know exactly what the size of those costs are and what percentage of the final cost of a new nuclear station they are going to be.
Dr Weightman: I could write to you with some of the figures.
Q180 Dr Turner: Could you give us a rough indication?
Dr Weightman: I think it is around about £5-10 million or so per design.
Q181 Chairman: Could I just have a view from other members of the panel as to the issues that Dr Turner has raised? How do you view the NII, Robert?
Mr Davies: It is under way. We are very pleased that the NII and the EA joined together; it is very joined up. We are concerned about resource. Tim Stone's eight-planked proposals seem to be good. We are going to have to resource up and use more of the information from the other international regulators.
Mr Bull: I would agree with a lot of what Robert has said. We recognise that there is nothing more important than making sure that the process is done thoroughly and robustly and openly and transparently, in the way that Dr Weightman and his team are doing it at the moment. The process is absolutely the right process. We are all keen to make sure that we get to the end of that process as quickly as possible but without any kind of cutting of corners.
Q182 Dr Turner: How soon do you anticipate licensing the designs that are going to be used?
Dr Weightman: The programme is that we should get within three years to the Generic Design Assessment process. This process is predicated on building a fleet of identical reactors. We hope British engineers do not do their normal thing and try and change things, but we cannot control that, the operators and vendors will do that. Then we would look at site specific aspects before granting a licence and at the operational organisational aspects as well. There are three aspects we look at before we grant a licence to install a facility: the operating organisation, the siting aspects and the design of the facility itself.
Q183 Dr Turner: Can you give a tentative date?
Dr Weightman: After three years it would be six to 12 months to grant a licence. Whether they can apply in between times for a licence to start working in parallel is for others to decide.
Q184 Dr Turner: So we are looking at 2011/2012 before anyone can break ground?
Dr Weightman: The date of 2011 is the comparable date that the NLC have got for their final rule making for AP1000. Some of this work is predicated on having some frozen designs rather than changing designs so that you get clarity on all sides. There is not going to be any change to construction and that facilitates and minimises, as far as I understand it, project risk both in terms of costs and timescales.
Q185 Chairman: Rob, I think you sat in on the first session when I made the point that INucE and the Royal Academy of Engineering did not feel there was a sufficient supply of engineers to meet the requirements of new nuclear build as well as decommissioning. Areva has also indicated that there is a shortage of skills. As a company you are reprioritising your efforts by building another EPR plant in France. How on earth are we going to provide the skills base to meet your requirements as a company? Do you worry about it?
Mr Davies: I am not sure worry is the correct word. We look very carefully at each market. This is a very important market for us. It is a European springboard. That is why we are here. We divide this new build programme into three simple phases. The first is where we are today, which is doing the licensing and regulatory stage, getting the design ready and for us then to build up a supply chain and partners to then build, which will then start in 2012/2013, and that is over a four or five-year period for what is going to be the first plant and then there is the operation of that. So our interest as a vendor on this is in the first two phases and then supporting the third phase, which is the 60 years of operation. Let us say there are about 100 people being employed full-time on the regulatory and licensing side in the UK, Germany, the United States and France for the UK EBR, it is about that. However many reactors are built in the UK, they are not going to be built at once by whichever vendor, they will be built in a series of waves. There might be two or three reactors being built at any one time, but I cannot really see more than that being built in the UK. It will come in a series of waves. If you are building two reactors on one site then the second reactor might start some 12 months after the first one starts, so trades will then flop across from the first onto the second. From our perspective, looking at the main bulk, which is the focus of today, which is the five-year build period, for example, we have identified partners and the supply chain in this country that are able to provide the people and skills to build that. We do not bring armies of 'Jean-Claudes' across the Channel or Germans across to do this. If you take Finland, it is less than 200 or 300 who are our own employees and who are there on the site, who are managing it and the rest are local personnel who are undertaking the work.
Q186 Chairman: Adrian, would you say that is the same for Westinghouse?
Mr Bull: I would say that model is very similar. We have the process of buying where we build. We would look to use the local supply chain. This is one occasion where the timescales that the nuclear industry works to, which are quite long, actually help us out rather than the other way round. We have already discussed the licensing issue, the GDA process and the resources around there. Those are the resources that we need urgently today. It is probably going to be of the order of five years before somebody puts a spade in the ground to start construction work on the first UK plant, whatever design that might be. Even if somebody were to sign a contract today, they would have to get through all of the licensing and site specific approval processes before they could start construction. There will be a significant lead time when supply chain companies know that there is a project there that they have to resource up to deal with. Like Areva, we are talking to a number of the supply chain companies and we have got a number of arrangements in place at one level or another. People will have that foresight. When we start to look to operation, it is another five years beyond that. When somebody puts the first spade in the ground then the operators of that plant will know that the clock starts ticking and in five years' time they need to have the appropriate number of trained and skilled operators.
Q187 Chairman: So you are confident you can deliver?
Mr Davies: Yes.
Q188 Chairman: We represent the scrutiny of government policy here. The UK is now going to be highly reliant on large global vendors like Westinghouse or Areva to actually supply. If there is suddenly elsewhere in Europe or anywhere else in the world a more lucrative contract to deliver, how does the UK guarantee that it will get prioritised in terms of the delivery of these systems when we are so reliant on global vendors?
Mr Bull: We are seeing the UK market as being a very important one. It is certainly one where there is a lot of talk about new build going on, far more so than perhaps some of the other European markets at the moment. It is possible to project forward what the likely timing might be for some of those other European markets. We are starting to look at new build and replacement build because our existing stations are already in a programme of closure. We are a little bit late in terms of taking steps now to replace that fleet, but we are looking, first of all, at getting a replacement series of stations in to replace the ones that will have closed over the next ten to 15 years. If you look elsewhere in Europe, a lot of those countries have got fleets that were built more recently and so their closure dates are slightly further into the future, if you are looking at it from a replacement point of view. We as Westinghouse are not going to make contracts with anybody that we cannot honour. Once we sign up and get customers lined up we will start to focus on ring-fencing our resources, both in terms of human resource and in terms of our ability to source the heavy components and so on to make sure that we deliver. You are absolutely right, if there are delays, if the UK planning and the UK processes drag on and on and on, then it may well be that a lot of global resources will have been diverted on to other markets.
Q189 Chairman: Robert, I presume you would agree with those comments from Adrian?
Mr Davies: Yes, I would. I hope the UK realises that it is perceived as being a very attractive market by all the major European utilities, that is why they are here and it is why they are viewing and eyeing this market. It is the springboard to what would be a European nuclear renaissance and it is the first market.
Q190 Chairman: Is it a reliable customer?
Mr Davies: It has been very reliable to date. There has been a very fast process in the last four years to actually change from a position where nuclear was keeping the nuclear option open into a position now where it is at the heart of the energy policy.
Q191 Chairman: So we are a good customer. This is going to be a very attractive marketplace. What are you doing to invest in the skills base development? What are your links with academia? How are you going to incentivise students to follow careers to give you your supply chain?
Mr Davies: In the past we have sponsored mechanical engineering students through university. We are in the early stages as far as the UK is concerned even though there is potentially a big market. We have no contracts yet at all. We have joined the Nuclear Skills Academy and we intend now to understand how better we can train and upskill the UK to be able to construct and then operate the new plants afterwards.
Q192 Chairman: The same question to you, Adrian.
Mr Bull: Globally we are recruiting about 1,000 people a year at the moment and we are planning to do the same over the next few years and that is mostly on our new build side. In the UK we have recruited staff for a dart facility at Springfields where we run the nuclear fuel factory. I think it is 230 people over the last two years and again the numbers there are growing.
Q193 Chairman: What are you doing to incentivise the training market so that this becomes a really attractive prospect within our universities, schools and colleges?
Mr Bull: We are actively involved in things like the National Skills Academy for Nuclear that reaches out into schools and universities and is providing training across the piece. We have got some good relationships with a number of the key universities in the sector, eg the Dalton Nuclear Institute who gave evidence to you last week, the University of Central Lancashire and so on. We are putting a lot of effort into those activities. I personally chair the north-west and north-east employers steering group for the National Skills Academy, so we are very actively involved in that and our site head at Springfields has a position on the Board. We are at the heart of all those initiatives that are going on and making sure that we are able to take benefits from that as those skilled resources become available.
Q194 Chairman: Do you regard the development of the new military requirements for nuclear build and nuclear engineering as a threat or is it an opportunity?
Mr Bull: It is probably a mixture of both, but on balance I would say it is more of an opportunity. You heard from BAE Systems earlier about the capability they have to provide services and components to support the nuclear submarine fleet, for instance. Our reactor design is designed in a way that it is modular. The kind of modules that companies like BAE Systems produce to assemble into nuclear submarines are exactly the same kind of technology and the same kind of approach that we use to build a nuclear power station. So there is plenty of scope for cross-fertilisation and synergy between the two sides there. There is the potential that people who enter one side of the sector might divert in their careers to the other, but I think having that diversity is an added attraction to bring people into nuclear per se and a lot of those skills do have an element whereby they are transferable.
Q195 Chairman: David, British Energy is clearly a major player within the nuclear industry at the moment and yet it is being sold or the British Government stake is being sold. Why is that at a time when we are sort of in this new, wonderful phase of all things nuclear?
Mr Barber: There are a number of options that the company is involved in looking at, but it is probably not appropriate for me to comment given the legal position that we are in.
Q196 Chairman: Nobody is listening. You can be as frank as you like!
Mr Barber: In terms of the skills and the transferability of skills, which was a point just raised, the nuclear engineer is probably a bit of a myth. When you look at the skills that we require to operate our plants, it is 80/90 per cent general engineering. We need good mechanical, electrical, control or instrumentation civil engineer skills. We can do the conversion. The proliferation of bespoke qualifications is probably not helpful to the industry as a whole, it is just the general engineering and then the conversion. As a company we have recognised both in our physical assets but also in our human assets that we needed to increase and improve our investment so over the last three years we have opened new training facilities. We have invested over £20 million in developing new training programmes. We have got international accreditation boards to look at those programmes. We have just let a contract for £10 million for an apprentice programme over seven years and it is utilising the redundant capacity down in Portsmouth, the Royal Navy training capacity. Part of that is to try and get all our apprentices who we will recruit locally but then train in one area as a residential base to be what we call a 'nuclear professional'. It is about having the personal responsibility. It is about giving people that pride in the quality of what they do so they come out with all the right employability.
Q197 Chairman: Why are those softer skills important to the nuclear engineering industry?
Mr Barber: When you look at the performance of the business there are two components: it is the availability and reliability of the plant and it is the capability and reliability of the people. When you look at the history of events, whether they have been significant events or less significant in the industry, the human being has been the factor in that. There is a lot of emphasis placed on the quality of the person. We have adopted the same approach that they have in the US, but it is a key component of what we believe. It is not just the person, it is the management framework and the culture of the organisation.
Q198 Chairman: Do you think the universities should be doing more to provide you with people who have got those soft skills or our colleges or our schools system?
Mr Barber: What we find is that people that come out of university have got a level of personal responsibility and are professional learners and they come with a lot of the right attributes. The people that come from school on apprenticeships do not have the right attributes. The first programme starts in September this year and it is a life skills team, working skills, personal responsibility. They are able to take part professionally in the environment that we have in the nuclear industry. The technical side of it is the same that you would get anywhere, it is transferable and I would suggest that the behavioural side of it is equally applicable to any major industry.
Q199 Chairman: David will not give us a comment about the British Energy sale and the Committee is equally confused about why Westinghouse was sold in 2006, at the very point at which there were likely to be very significant contracts coming their way and in which Government could be a beneficiary.
Mr Bull: I think I can probably give a better answer given that the Westinghouse sale by BNFL, which is UK Government owned, has now gone through. Government had made it very clear sometime before that that if there was to be any new nuclear programme in the UK then it was going to be down to the market to deliver, the private sector and that there was not going to be any taxpayers' money going into a new build programme. On that basis it was absolutely right that the companies that might participate within that market should be companies which are not owned by or largely controlled by UK Government. It is a slightly strange situation in the first place perhaps for UK Government to own Westinghouse, which is a company headquartered overseas and with most of its activities overseas, or at a time when our aspirations were slightly different, but we would find it much more difficult to participate in this market at the moment, given the framework that the Government has set, if we were still under Government ownership. In the case of Westinghouse it was absolutely the right thing to do. The value of Westinghouse grew very significantly under BNFL stewardship and so the taxpayer made a significant profit on its ownership of the company over seven or eight years, and now we are much better positioned to do business not just in the UK but also hopefully in international markets. It would have been a very difficult situation for us globally if we had found, because of those constraints, we were not able to sell our plan in the UK whilst owned by UK Government. That would have created perhaps an unhelpful perception further afield.
Q200 Dr Iddon: The supply chain has been mentioned more than once by this panel. Where are the significant bottlenecks in the supply chain, if there are any that you perceive?
Mr Bull: The most obvious is in the provision of the very heavy forging components. At the moment there is really only one company in the world, Japan Steel Works, that makes those ultra heavy forgings. They are investing in increasing their capacity. There are other companies around the world, including in the UK, that are also looking at whether they might invest significant amounts of money to develop a comparable capacity, but at the moment that is where the major pitch point is. Companies like Westinghouse and other vendors have slots in that order book for many, many years ahead so that we can assure ourselves that we can provide and source those components to meet the orders that we sign up to.
Q201 Dr Iddon: We cannot gear up in this country for heavy forging, is that it?
Mr Bull: It is possible. It was in the press recently that Sheffield Forgemasters have a capability to produce forgings not quite at that level and they are looking at investing many millions of pounds into whether they want to invest and build the ultra heavy forging capability not just for the UK market but for the global market. I think that is driven by a point that cuts across lots of the discussion we had earlier on about the supply chain of human resources as well as components, which is we are just at the point in that hockey stick curve where the nuclear renaissance that people have talked about for many, many years is starting to take off. We have heard about this renaissance for the best part of a decade, but in terms of hard orders being signed, it has only been in the last two or three years that we have started to see our AP1000 orders. A previous piece of evidence was about the eight that we have sold already and that has been in the last 18 months. We are seriously starting to ramp up that order book. It is only when people see real orders rather than just a lot of talk and speculation that they are going to be much more confident investing in many cases many millions of pounds in supply chain fabrication equipment.
Q202 Dr Iddon: So what will be the key to encouraging companies to invest in manufacture in this sector?
Mr Bull: I think it will be when they see those orders becoming real for the various reactor vendors. We are in discussions with a number of supply chain companies and I am sure Rob and other vendors are in the same position in terms of making agreements with them to source capacity and source what they can produce from that capacity if they were to invest in it. We have the confidence in turn to do that as we see our order book developing. It is as the customers are starting to put pen to paper ---
Q203 Dr Iddon: So it is beyond licensing and planning?
Mr Bull: Absolutely. The licensing activity is ongoing. Utilities can put planning applications in, they can get to the end of that process and then they are perfectly at liberty to just stop. It is when somebody actually signs the order, the procurement construction contract, that they have committed to build the thing. With all of the work we are doing now in the UK we have to remember there is not an order yet. We are doing an awful lot of preparatory work and companies like ourselves and others are investing in the GDA process, but we need a customer at some point to translate that into real plant orders. When that starts to happen or when that starts to become much more likely is when I think you will really see those supply chain companies' investment stepping up a gear. I should not imply they are not investing at the moment, but I think their interest will step up a gear.
Q204 Dr Iddon: Robert, does Areva see it that way or do you perceive some other bottlenecks?
Mr Davies: I do not like the word bottlenecks as it gives an impression that if something is not available today then you cannot have the ultimate product tomorrow. Right now that is not the case. I do not know yet of any vendor who is unable to sign the contract to provide a reactor by date X realistically within the licensing regime because there is a bottleneck of component X, Y, Z, whatever it is. We know all of the shortfalls within the global supply chain to feed our reactors. People mentioned forging because it slips off the tongue, but there are a whole range of things which vary from tubing, some of the INC equipment. Some we might take five years in advance and some two years in advance. If you came to me today and said, "I want a reactor, please, and I would like you to turn the first earth in 2013 to turn on in 2018," then I or any other vendor would then have a list for you and say, "You might now start to buy these items and leave them in the back yard and then we will start building it in 2013." As far as the supply is concerned, I am sure our approach is really very similar to the other vendors and that is a global one. It is not in the interests of a company to invest in this nuclear renaissance just for a local market. That is very dangerous. What happens if the local market goes right? What happens if it goes sour? Then that investment just goes down the pan. Therefore, from our point of view, we see companies who are able to support us in a global view and support local. That is where the opportunity is for the UK, it is an opportunity now to join globally and to support locally.
Dr Iddon: As you know, gentlemen, the Planning Bill is going through the House at the moment. Its plan is to set up a Commission and to speed up planning processes for large capital investment, especially nuclear power stations. It has undergone amendment in the House of Commons because our Members were unhappy about the lack of involvement of local authorities and so on. In general does the new Planning Bill meet with your agreement? Would you be seeking amendments to it yourselves if you were in Parliament?
Q205 Chairman: Could you say whether you think from the regulator's point of view the new planning arrangements will assist you in being able to make decisions within more clear timeframes?
Dr Weightman: I do not think it is in a sense relevant to our decision making. We will do our job on behalf of the people come what may.
Q206 Chairman: Does it help?
Dr Weightman: I do not know whether it helps or not.
Q207 Dr Iddon: Sizewell B had a very long public inquiry.
Dr Weightman: That took our resources in terms of having to contribute, quite rightly, in that planning system at that point in time. We are putting a lot of effort in now to being a lot more open with how we regulate new build at the moment. We got the vendors to put their safety cases into the public domain subject to commercial and security considerations and invited comments from the public. We have put all our reports at the end of step two into the public domain, with some 50-odd reports around that. We have been very clear about our safety assessments, our standards and that is very clear in the public domain. We are comfortable with whatever public scrutiny there is of our approach and our standards and our work because we are public servants. At the end of the day our duty is to the public and the UK Government.
Q208 Chairman: Does anybody else want to comment on the planning issue?
Mr Bull: The principles of it we would welcome, that more timely and streamlined confidence in the timescale for decision making in the planning process is something that the industry needs given that we are looking at private sector investors and the comments that you made about their ability to go elsewhere in the world. They need to know what the process is in the UK. So we welcome that. If it does what it says on the tin it will have been very helpful not just to the nuclear industry but to other parts of the energy sector. I think the GDA process and the new planning reforms really go hand in hand because the only way you can get that predictable and more streamline planning process is to take out the safety and technical scrutiny of the reactor designs that, quite rightly, does need to be done and do that upfront in a one-off exercise, which is what the GDA process represents.
Q209 Dr Iddon: This time round we are likely to build a number of these nuclear reactors on existing sites where the local community relies upon this big investment for jobs, especially in the Lake District. We were at Sizewell B yesterday out in Suffolk and a considerable number of local jobs are involved on the Sizewell B site.
Mr Bull: It will be up to the utilities to decide where they put them, but a lot of the sensible comment seems to be that the existing nuclear sites look like a good bet for certainly the first wave of new nuclear stations.
Q210 Mr Marsden: I would like to ask some questions about the recruitment and skills issues. We have had some discussion on this in previous sessions. You were talking about some of your specific shortages in the inspectorate earlier on. Is this a reflection of shortages in engineering generally or is it that much worse in nuclear?
Dr Weightman: I am sure the NRA has got figures on that. I think it is a reflection of the general shortage of engineering skills around. I have heard from David Barber that in terms of general engineering then the skills are transferable. It is a global market as well and that can operate both ways. I was up at Haysham One the other week looking at some items there, the boiler closure unit aspects and it was very interesting to see they had got quite a lot of American engineers over to assist them in that and they were assisting them in quite a lot of work there because there is a large programme of work in looking at some of the Asian phenomena in the existing round.
Q211 Mr Marsden: Given the security sensitivities of much of what is going to be done we are going to need to have a home grown workforce, are we not?
Dr Weightman: I do not dispute that. It is still a global work market that will operate both ways. Clearly in one of my other areas of responsibility, nuclear security, we have to look at the vetting of whoever is involved in operating new nuclear power stations and there are issues around that as well.
Q212 Mr Marsden: Adrian, you mentioned the young people you have recruited at Springfields over the last two years. I was at Springfields earlier in the summer and I think what is going on there is very interesting and positive. The reality of it is, with demography as it is going to be over the next ten to 15 years, you are going to need to re-skill quite a lot of the existing people as well as hoping to bring in people from schools and universities. What strategies have you got for that?
Mr Bull: You are right, there is that issue about the retention and re-skilling of the existing workforce. Our workforce has gone from around about 4,200 at its absolute peak in the mid-Eighties down to about 1,300 and it is up to about 1,400 or 1,500 now and rising at the moment. We are looking at how we attract new people in. We do a lot of work with the schools and the universities in the region around Preston and more widely across Lancashire and the vast majority of our recruits do come to us from local surrounding areas. We are seeing the benefit of that engagement that we do on our doorstep. We offer some particular advantages for young people who come in and want to join the young generation network.
Q213 Mr Marsden: You are talking about young people. I am being ageist on this occasion. I want to hear about older people. What are you doing for older women, for example?
Mr Bull: I am not aware that we have any specifics ---
Q214 Mr Marsden: What about adult apprenticeships generally?
Mr Bull: I would have to write to you with the figures on that. I do not have the break down by age profile of our apprentices. I know we have about 70 in the system at the moment.
Q215 Mr Marsden: Does anyone else want to comment on this demographic issue? The point that I have just made to Mr Bull is that even if you get all of the red hot school-leavers and graduates you are still going to have a shortage because you are going to have far fewer graduates and school-leavers in the next ten to 15 years.
Mr Barber: One of the issues as well generally in the UK is everybody has been competing in the transfer market. Going back to the football analogy earlier and buying players from other teams. What is the balance between growing your own talent and the people you take in the transfer market? We took on 420 people last year and 50 of those were apprentices and 20 graduates. So we are heavily biased to buying people in the transfer market and we feel that we need to move more to the other side to grow our own talent to be more secure going forwards.
Q216 Mr Marsden: Let me ask you about the sector skills council, Cogent, as you are a Board member of that. We heard in the previous session that there were possibly four or five sector skills councils that potentially affect the nuclear industry. Cogent, of course, has "pot pourri" membership of quite a lot of other non-nuclear interests. Does that hamper or assist trying to get skills going in to the nuclear sector?
Mr Barber: It comes back to the earlier point of having general engineering skills. Really what you want is the Cogents, Semta, EU skills to be collaborating together on growing the whole engineering skills population. There are a lot of similarities, even if you just take the Cogent footprint, in the foundation degree apprenticeships on the approach that we take to skills. The efforts that are going in to promoting science and engineering in schools are all common.
Q217 Mr Marsden: So the fact that Cogent is quite a broad umbrella sector skills organisation does not worry you?
Mr Barber: No. To some extent it is helpful. The co-ordination needs to take place within other sector skills councils. I do not think the Government needs to do anything else in terms of the skills structure. What it needs to do is focus on making sure it delivers what it has set out to deliver.
Q218 Mr Marsden: Are you happy you are going to be relicensed by the new UK Commission on Employment and Skills?
Mr Barber: It is a difficult one for me to comment on, but I would hope we are because we have got very good support from industry on that body and it has got clear targets and plans to move forwards. There is quite a large number of organisations trying to do the same things, but where we bump up against them we are very clear on who is doing what. You develop a memorandum of understanding so they are not overlapping. The CEO of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear is also coordinating activities across the whole of the National Skills Academy again for the same reason.
Q219 Mr Marsden: I met her and, if I may say so, she is a very impressive figure.
Mr Barber: That was our concern from an industry point of view, a lot of people tripping over the same things. I think those are positive approaches to try and improve that.
Q220 Dr Blackman-Woods: We have already heard a little bit about what you are doing to attract people into the sector. Is there any evidence that it is becoming easier to attract young people into the nuclear industry now that it appears to have a future or are the environmental obstacles still too big to really get the numbers of young people into the sector that you need?
Mr Barber: At the moment from an operational point of view we are not having problems attracting people. We probably get about 50 applicants per position. We are not having difficulty now. The issue is will we have difficulty in ten years' time. You can have the most robust training structure in the world but unless you can get people to come in to put through that process it is not going to be helpful in ten years' time. What we can do is support the efforts that are going in with the STEM agenda, working with Energy Foresight, working with the teachers to try and promote that. It is difficult to speculate how that is going to pan out going forwards, but when you think that in 2018 the first new generation power station is operational in the UK then those people, if you are at apprentice level going through to a degree level, will be somewhere between 12 and 15 now. They are already in the school system and already thinking about their options. Now is the time to start making that work.
Q221 Dr Blackman-Woods: Is industry doing anything to target young women in particular so that they see a future career in the nuclear industry because the numbers are rather low at present, are they not?
Mr Barber: I think one of the things that is helpful is having some role models. At some of the careers fairs we take along some of our recent female graduates and we use those to help talk and act as science and engineering ambassadors supporting the schools. If you have the role models I think that helps to attract more people into the industry. We have just appointed our first female station director and again it becomes a focus point and people can see it can be done.
Q222 Chairman: Any other comments on the gender issue?
Mr Bull: The gender balance in the organisations that we represent, the industry as a whole, probably represents what has been in the science and technology and engineering courses in universities at the time when we have been doing recruitment. I think with that in mind, when you are looking to the universities now and see the far greater proportion of women who are doing science, technology, engineering qualifications, we are seeing that balance reflected through into the nuclear industry. I think the industry's broader level of public perception has changed in the last ten years or so and has been reflected in people's willingness and keenness to come and join the industry, whatever gender they may be and that has to be a good thing.
Mr Davies: We recruit about 2,500 people a year from Europe and from the United States. For them actually joining nuclear is seen as being a green option. Many of our graduates come from Germany. The paradigm has moved very quickly. The paradigm has changed. I think we are now in 2008 and not 1998. As far as females are concerned, we have a female chief executive which does our business the world of good!
Chairman: We always like to finish every session on a very positive note. Thank you very much indeed.