Nuclear expert Spivey dropped from DTI post

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The Independent Online

The architect of the British Energy rescue and the creation of the £40bn Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has been moved from his job at the Department of Trade and Industry.

Stephen Spivey, whose official title was director of the legislation team, has been replaced in the last few weeks by another DTI civil servant, David Hayes. Mr Spivey is understood to be unhappy about being taken off the nuclear beat and has yet to be given a new position.

In the last couple of years Mr Spivey has been central to a radical shake-up of the energy sector and the nuclear industry in particular. He was the civil servant in charge of drawing up the contingency plans when it became clear during the summer of 2002 that British Energy was in danger of collapse. After the privatised nuclear energy group admitted it was facing administration, Mr Spivey had a central role in putting together a £2bn rescue of the company.

Last week British Energy went cap in hand to the Government for £75m of additional funds after problems at two of its reactors caused a fresh cash crisis.

Mr Spivey was also involved in drawing up the plans for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the new body that is being established following legislation in last Wednesday's Queen's Speech. The NDA will be responsible for cleaning up the legacy of 50 years of nuclear power development in the UK.

The DTI estimates that the clean-up will cost at least £40bn, making it one of the largest government projects ever undertaken in Britain.

A third decision in which Mr Spivey was involved was the dropping of plans to part-privatise BNFL, the troubled nuclear fuels group. Most of BNFL's assets in the UK will be take over by the NDA.

Sources in the nuclear industry were at a loss to understand why a civil servant who had been such a key figure in reforming the Government's policy on nuclear power would not be there to see the new policy implemented.

A DTI spokesman declined to comment in detail, saying civil servants changed jobs all the time.