National Nuclear Archive project

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has announced a decision to proceed with the next phase of the National Nuclear Archive project. The project will see a new purpose built archive facility constructed at Wick to provide long-term storage of records and other archive material from civil nuclear sites in the UK. The archive will be operated on NDA’s behalf by a specialist commercial partner and is expected to bring more than 20 sustainable jobs to the town.

As well as containing nuclear records from across Britain, the NDA is working in partnership with The Highland Council to ensure that the National Nuclear Archive will also provide a new, publicly accessible home for Highland Council’s North Highland Archive. The new building will be constructed on land currently owned by Highland Council near the airport at Wick.

NDA chairman, Stephen Henwood, said

“This is a significant decision for the NDA. Today’s announcement signals the culmination of an extensive piece of work to devise a strategy for the long-term safe management of a huge volume of records dating back to the 1940’s. The archive to be built in Wick will be an extremely important national facility and I’m particularly pleased about the additional economic benefits that will come to the north of Scotland by placing the archive in Caithness.”

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead said:

“The announcement by the NDA to build the National Nuclear Archive in Wick is welcome. Not only will the archive deliver the infrastructure required for the NDA to manage its records safely, securely and efficiently but it will also create a number of sustainable quality jobs for the Caithness region. I would also like to thank the Highland Council and NDA for working together to achieve this successful outcome.”

John Thurso MP welcomed the NDA’s decision to proceed with building the UK’s national archive in Wick:

“The decision to start work on the National Nuclear Archive in Wick will be a big boost for the local economy during the construction phase and provide good jobs over the longer term. It is also an important facility around which complementary activity by The Highland Council and the Scottish Government could be planned. I warmly welcome the decision to proceed and commend the NDA for fulfilling their promise in these difficult economic times.”

Bob Earnshaw, chair of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group said:

“The DSG has been involved with this project for a number of years and are really pleased with the announcement today which outlines potential dates for the start of an extensive construction project as well as providing long-term jobs for the future. While the facility will ensure sustainable jobs it will also represent other unique opportunities for the area and we look forward to continuing to work with the NDA to ensure the benefit of siting the National Nuclear Archive in Wick are maximised.”

Councillor Drew Hendry, Leader of The Highland Council said:

“This is a very welcome announcement. When the initial decision was taken to establish the National Nuclear Archive in Wick, the Council saw this not only as a positive step forward in terms of creating high-value jobs and boosting the area’s economy, but also as an opportunity to establish a shared facility with the North Highland Archive, creating a unique asset for the north of Scotland and the UK. The Council’s role in identifying and providing land has been a key factor in bringing the project to Wick, and we look forward to working with the NDA to bring the project to fruition.”

The next steps for the project are to develop the commercial model before engaging with the market to identify and procure a suitable partner.

Further work is needed on the design of the facility before the construction phase can get underway.

The current plans indicate that a commercial partner will be appointed by mid-2013 and the facility will be operational in early 2016.