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Letter from Malcolm Wicks to Geoffrey Podger

10 January 2006
Geoffrey Podger
Chief Executive
Health and Safety Executive
Rose Court
2 Southwark Bridge
London SE1 9HS

In the context of the Energy Review, I am writing to request an expert report on some specific potential health and safety risks arising from recent and potential energy developments and on the HSE’s approach to ensure that risks arising from these are sensibly managed by industry, including:

As you will be aware, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced a review of energy policy on 29 November 2005. The Review will aim to ensure the UK is on track to meet the medium and long-term goals set out in the 2003 energy white paper.

The Review will be broad in scope, looking at both demand and supply aspects, including transport and energy efficiency. It will look at a wide range of options to help put the UK on track to deliver these goals, including the role of current technologies such as civil nuclear power, renewables, cleaner coal, carbon capture and storage, and gas.

In order to make a full assessment of these options in time for the Review to publish its recommendations, we need an assessment by the HSE of some of the risks associated with new developments in the energy sector and their approach to ensuring industry manage these risks. This report will help the Review to put forward workable policy recommendations that do not threaten public or workforce safety.

The Review needs an assessment of the potential health and safety risks arising from some recent and potential future energy developments listed below (although this list is not exhaustive) and the HSE’s approach to ensuring these risks are managed sensibly by industry:

On nuclear, we would like an assessment from HSE of how they might go about the appraisal of reactor designs in advance of specific proposals for new build. This will be useful for the Review making a recommendation in taking the decision on whether there is a potential role for a new generation of nuclear power stations to help us meet our medium and long-term energy goals.

In order for the Review team to properly assimilate the report and make a considered assessment in advance of the Review making policy recommendations this Summer, we would need to have the final HSE report by end-June. Officials from the Review team have been working with HSE officials in preparation for this request and will remain in close contact throughout the process to share emerging findings.

We will be including a line in our Energy Review consultation document that will be published on 23 rd January; both HSE and DTI officials have agreed the form of words. This would be the formal announcement of our request and until this date, the letter would be restricted. The HSE report will ultimately be in the public domain (as would any other consultation responses).

Any consultation or other engagement with the public that the HSE wish to carry out in preparing this report would help contribute to the Government’s commitment to full public engagement throughout the process of the Energy Review and would have my support.

I am copying this letter to Lord Hunt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, DWP); Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission; Rt Hon Margaret Beckett (Secretary of State, Defra); Elliott Morley (Minister of State, Climate Change and Environment) and Lord Drayson (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Defence Procurement).

MALCOLM WICKS

Updated 2009-05-28