As we work to decommission 17 of the UK's earliest nuclear sites, it's important to understand how people think we're doing and what they think would help us to improve. So we're using an independent, expert organisation to conduct this regular survey, to approach people interested in our work via telephone interviews and an online questionnaire. The responses help us understand what we need to focus on when engaging in the future.
As with our previous survey, we've looked at perceptions about how we:
- maintain standards in areas like health and safety
- are effective and making progress in achieving in our mission
- are open and trustworthy
Again, we've looked at the responses from 3 different groups:
The smallest group of 58 respondents were individuals we know quite well, who tend to be fairly influential. They are generally actively interested in or regularly involved with NDA in various roles. They range from government ministers to local community leaders, national journalists and regulators. This group were contacted by telephone. A more in-depth analysis of their responses sought to understand the reasons for their answers in more detail.
The second workforce group covers employees from all our businesses that operate the nuclear sites and subsidiary organisations. Out of the 16,000 employed, 950 responded to the survey.
The third group was 371 people who have expressed an interest in NDA and our work. They accessed a link to the survey on our website, through our social media channels or subscription to our e-newsletter.
This is the second year we've asked the same groups of stakeholders the same questions, although we know that not exactly the same individuals answered our questions.
Summary of responses
In looking at the results in the round, there's no substantial change in attitudes since the earlier survey of Summer 2017. While the workforces score the least positive, other stakeholders show very positive scores.
It's good to note that over two-thirds of all stakeholders surveyed thought that NDA maintains the highest standards of safety, security and environmental responsibility across its estate. This figure rises to 97% for key stakeholders. However, they are all more divided in their views on how we maintain sustainable communities (overall 50% supportive) and use best practice (42% supportive).
When we look at how effective the NDA is in various different areas, there's a large gap in perception between stakeholders who know us well and the workforces who may come into contact with us only rarely. Two important scores that reflect this are concerned with how we direct funding across the estate. Where 75% of key stakeholders score us favourably, only 43% of the workforce score us positively. The second area to note is in value for money, with 45% of key stakeholders supporting us, compared to 18% of the workforce .
In engaging with stakeholders, there's again a disparity of views: 69% of key stakeholders believe we engage well while only 40% of the workforce agree.
In the areas of transparency, leadership and trust, the figures show little difference from last year. A high number (69%) of key stakeholders trust NDA, while only 31% of the NDA business workforce feel the same. Over two-thirds (68%) of key stakeholders think NDA is open and transparent but only 39% of the workforce agree.
Looking at the progress made by NDA towards its mission, 63% of key stakeholders feel progress has been good compared to 51% of the mailing list group and 38% of workforce respondents.
More detailed comments reveal positive areas, as well as where we could improve
Some positive comments from a number of those questioned include:
- good achievements in nuclear clean-up, especially at Sellafield
- successful long-term strategy for nuclear waste in place
- government funding secured for nuclear clean-up mission
- successful partnership working models that bring together different companies, stakeholders and nuclear site employees
- drive towards improved equality, diversity and inclusion in the industry
Challenges identified include:
- keeping costs within budget
- responding to difficulties in a more proactive, strategic way
- improving engagement to aid understanding of the challenges NDA faces
- clarifying the relationship le between NDA and Site Licence Companies/businesses
Areas where stakeholders told us we should do more:
- include stakeholders in the decision-making process and listen to their feedback
- explore better ways to support local businesses
- show flexibility, engaging with experts outside of the nuclear sector
There are no significant changes in attitudes and perceptions since the 2017 survey. The results appear broadly consistent. There are many positives:
- people understand NDA’s role
- praise our safety record
- recognise the progress being made in cleaning up nuclear sites
- the professionalism of our staff
But challenges remain:
- there is more to do on listening and engaging
- reporting on our performance and clarifying relationships with our Site Licence Companies
On a personal note, as I move on to lead stakeholder engagement across the Magnox sites, as their Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Director, I'd like to say thank you to everyone I've worked with over the past 14 years with NDA. It's been fascinating to learn so much about the complex challenges of cleaning up our earliest nuclear sites, the technologies we're deploying and the skills we need for this important work. From September, I'll be using all I've learnt to focus on the great work being undertaken across the Magnox sites.
I'm delighted to hand over my NDA role to someone who's already worked with so many of our stakeholders: John McNamara has joined NDA as Head of Stakeholder Relations. He has a wealth of nuclear industry knowledge after working with stakeholders in his earlier roles at EdF, NuGen, Nuclear Industry Association and British Energy.
In the meantime, if you'd like to keep up to date on all our work, including the launch of new ways in which we will share progress, then please sign up to our e-bulletin or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.
We welcome feedback on these survey results, so please share any comments below.