A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Sellafield's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Sellafield is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Sellafield site on the west
Cumbrian coast
Calder Hall – the world’s first
commercial-scale power station
Sellafield, on the west coast of Cumbria, can lay claim to
being the original northern powerhouse. The site has
contributed significantly to the development of the global
nuclear industry. Its first mission was to provide plutonium for
Britain’s earliest nuclear weapons, and it’s no stretch to say that
Britain’s status as a 21st-century military superpower can be
traced back to those Cumbrian nuclear pioneers. In less than
a decade, those innovators had joined forces with Britain’s
industrial supply chain, the UK government, and academia,
to deliver another world first: Calder Hall. Incredibly, by 1956,
this small site in northwest England had not only produced
weapons-grade plutonium, but it had also designed, built and
began to operate the world’s first commercial-scale nuclear
power station. Enterprise director Rebecca Weston elaborates.
That spirit of collaboration in the common good still runs through the veins of
the site today. In the modern era, we’re working with government, the industry,
academia and the community to decommission the site and make the legacy left by
those pioneers safer, sooner.
The story of Sellafield is a remarkable one. It also works as a parable of how the global
nuclear industry has evolved. An already complex mix of science, construction, and
engineering, it has accumulated multiple extra layers of complexity as society changes.
Competing pressures such as regulation, cost, public opinion, global politics,
technology, security and the environment have created extra demands to satisfy.
The result is an industry that moves at a fraction of the speed of its progenitor.
»Enterprise director:
»Established in 2005
»Based in west Cumbria
»Services: Operations and
clean-up at the Sellafield
nuclear site
»No. of employees: 11,000+
»Sellafield site covers six square
kilometres; home to more
than 200 nuclear facilities
Sellafield Ltd
Highlighting best practice
Forexample, the Windscale pile
reactors went from concept to
operations in a little over three years.
The constraints at Sellafield aren’t
directly parallel; we continue to be
funded to the tune of £2 billion a
year by the UK government. However,
the need to balance other competing
pressures remains and can often
impact on progress.
A new era
Sellafield will enter a new era in 2020
when operations at its two nuclear fuel
reprocessing plants end. The site will
transition from a nuclear production
facility to an out-and-out environmental
restoration programme. This means
taking apart and demolishing the
original buildings and technology while
safely managing the waste they created.
In total, there are more than 1,000
buildings in a site of just six square
kilometres. The site is home to the
majority of the UK’s higher activity waste.
It is painstaking work, requiring a 100-
year programme of carefully managed,
often world-first, engineering projects.
This is heavily front-loaded, meaning
many of the most challenging projects
are being delivered simultaneously over
the next few decades.
The company leading the mission is
Sellafield Ltd. Its role is to be an agile
manager of this uniquely complex
portfolio of projects: keeping the site
safe while urgently dealing with the
highest hazards and reducing the time,
and therefore costs, associated. We
have to be more than a manager of a
complex portfolio of projects, however.
The breadth of activity carried out by
the business is vast; to be successful we
need to integrate operations, utilities
and a wide range of support functions.
Created in 2005, Sellafield Ltd is a
wholly owned subsidiary of the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
Sellafield has proudly served the UK
and global nuclear industries for 70
years: from the original Cold War
custodians to the designers, builders
and operators of Calder Hall, then
the commercially focused nuclear fuel
services professionals and finally, the
modern-day clean-up experts.
This incredible contribution has left
a unique legacy which we are now
getting to grips with. Sellafield’s original
waste stores were built when Cold
War-era paranoia was at its peak. Most
of the buildings were constructed very
quickly, especially by modern standards,
with little consideration as to how their
contents would eventually be removed.
New retrievals equipment is being
installed in buildings never designed to
be emptied. Sophisticated methods of
breaking into these radioactive plants
have had to be designed and then
carefully implemented on small parcels
of land on a heavily congested site. As a
result, we have become a world leader
in solving the world’s most difficult
industrial challenges. By 2020, the site’s
reprocessing mission will be complete,
bringing to an end a mission which
has provided stable, well-paid work for
generations of west Cumbrians.
Evolving the business
Sellafield’s changing mission is a
challenging period for the business
upfront, and means that approximately
3,000 roles will change. But we are
committed to ensuring there will be no
forced redundancies as a result.
Everyone who wants a new job will be
retrained and redeployed elsewhere
Decommissioning and
clean-up progress at
The breadth
of activity
carried out by
the business is
vast; to be
successful we
need to
utilities and a
wide range of
on the site. One example is the huge
demand for project management skills
in the decommissioning programmes
over the next couple of decades.
We’ll be delivering one of the largest
and most complex portfolio of major
projects anywhere in the world. Our
business needs to be the right shape
and size to manage that.
We’ve already begun preparing for
that transition, creating a pipeline of
skills through our Project Academy
for Sellafield. This is a collaboration
with the University of Cumbria and
other training providers which offers
an educational pathway into project
qualifications from HND to PhD level.
The way we deliver major projects
at Sellafield will change radically
in future. Our new delivery model
creates a project environment where
our business is integrated into our
supply chains, improving alignment,
efficiency, and outcomes.
Instead of procuring supply chains for
each new project, we’ll establish new
relationships with selected delivery
partners, focusing on the creation of
an entirely new partnership approach.
This will be done while the company
meets its targeted £1.4 billion in
efficiency savings for the Treasury by
2020, while also aiming for a further
£1 billion to £1.4 billion by 2029.
By changing the company’s structure,
working with partners and further
involving local, national and international
supply chains, improvements in
performance and value-for-money are
already being felt. Alongside local and
national stakeholders, we are exploring
how we can help our existing and future
supply chains access new markets.
Evolving a business like Sellafield Ltd,
a £2 billion enterprise, with more than
11,000 employees, is difficult. These very
changes are helping achieve efficiency
savings and delivering more value for
money for the taxpayer. But we’re
tackling these difficult challenges in the
right way – at pace and with a purpose
akin to the pioneers who built this site.
Securing a bright future for
west Cumbria
Once the heavy decommissioning
work is completed, by about 2040,
we will only provide a proportion of
our current 11,000 jobs. On paper,
that leaves west Cumbria facing an
uncertain future. To help solve this,
we are developing a transformation
programme with our partners and
stakeholders. The aim is to make
changes now that use the taxpayer
investment in the site to unlock a post-
Sellafield future for the community.
Sellafield is currently home to a
critical mass of skills, capabilities, and
knowledge. We want to leverage this
to attract new business and sectors to
the area, diversify the local economy
and build in greater resilience in the
long term.
As part of our own investment
programme, there’s a new school
campus under construction in
neighbouring Whitehaven, to which
Sellafield Ltd contributed £10.5 million,
with other funders including the NDA,
Copeland borough council, Copeland
Community Fund, and Cumbria county
We have also invested £2.6 million
into the regeneration of the former
Whitehaven bus station to create
a workspace for small tech and
digital firms, further enhancing the
diversification agenda. There are a
number of further investments in
the pipeline along with joint venture
initiatives with the supply chain.
Sellafield Ltd is proud of the
achievements of its past and present
workforce, and of the contribution
we make to the local and national
economy. Creating a sustainable
economic platform, through which
generations of people in Cumbria
can benefit, could be Sellafield’s
The way we
deliver major
projects at
Sellafield will
radically in
Sellafield Ltd is
supporting the
regeneration of the
former bus station in

This article was sponsored by Sellafield. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy