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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…AVOIDING THE LEGAL PITFALLS OF WEBSITES AND E-COMMERCEPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
Chris Strutt, a solicitor at Baines Wilson Business Lawyers, provides some practical guidance in relation to the legal issues and risks concerning websites and e-commerce. Baines Wilson is one of only a few firms in the country, outside of the largest commercial law firms, who specialise in this area of law as well as intellectual property work.

THE growth of e-commerce offers huge advantages to businesses in terms of the ability to extend their reach to new markets via a website. However, making effective use of the technologies available and complying with the legal compliance requirements is a challenge for all business as is operating successfully in the internet environment.

Non-compliance with the ever-increasing amount of legislation exposes your business to a number of risks, such as civil liability, fines (and in some extreme circumstances imprisonment), contracts being set aside as unenforceable, and legal action from organisations such as the Office of the Information Commissioner, Disability Rights Commission and Trading Standards which are increasingly being frustrated by the apathy and lack of knowledge shown by businesses in respect of the issues and are now taking a firmer line.

It is only a matter of time before we see more and more legal actions being brought against non-compliant businesses.

All risks are clearly outweighed by the benefits technology can offer to the modern business and in reality the risks can easily be minimised by addressing the legal issues head on and dealing with them in appropriate legal notices and policies.

There are a number of key areas where businesses need to ensure that they are legally compliant.

It is useful to have legal terms which set out the ways in which a visitor to a website is entitled to use the content of the website.

There are a number of issues that can be dealt with in a legal statement, all of which can enhance your legal position. This may be as simple as a copyright statement to put visitors on notice that the material on the website is subject to copyright and should not be copied, or a more complex statement, such as making clear the basis upon which you conduct e-commerce.

Businesses have been required for some time now to provide various items of information as a matter of law on their website, which include the name of the business, geographical address, an email address suitable for rapid communication, details of any trade, professional or regulatory body that the business is registered with, and the business’s VAT identification number.

Some of these, such as the business name, tend to be included as a matter of course, but businesses often omit all the required information, such as a VAT number and geographical address. These requirements are in addition to traditional laws relating to the information that businesses should have in off-line communications, such as a company’s registered office address, which continue to apply and should be included on a website in the same way that they should be included in a company’s letterhead.

Web sites that are used purely for marketing or information purposes and not “e-commerce” are still caught by regulations requiring the provision of information to visitors to the site.

One key area of legal concern for brochure websites is in respect of obligations relating to data.

Whether or not you intend using your website for genuine e-commerce, that is to actually take orders, there is a good chance that the website will collect information about visitors to the site.

This could be overtly in the form of electronic forms you ask visitors to complete, or less obvious methods such as information collected from cookies, which are small text files which websites can send to the hard drive of computers which allow the website to recognise if visitors return to the site.

Under data protection and privacy laws, businesses are under certain obligations in terms of getting specific permission for the collection of this information and in respect of cookies the law now specifically requires that you explain what the cookies are and how a visitor can refuse them.

A good privacy policy will assist in achieving legal compliance. If you do not have a privacy policy, you will at least need to have a statement on your website covering the use of cookies. Failure to comply can lead to bad publicity, fines and the inconvenience of having a website brought down whilst the compliance issues are dealt with.

There can also be privacy issues in terms of the information you publish on your website. For example, publishing information about employees of your organisation without their consent could be in breach of data protection laws.

If the website is trading, businesses need to ensure that they adequately protect themselves against contractual problems arising from the nature of internet transactions.

This includes the need to ensure that they do not find themselves committed to sell goods at a ridiculously low price as a result of a typographical error, or that they are not committed to sell goods that they do not have in stock or which are no longer available. You may recall a number of household names have had to deal with website pricing issues.

The law imposes certain requirements when accepting orders over the internet, which include a detailed explanation as to how the contract process will work and when the customer reaches the point where it is contractually committed to purchase and when the site owner is obligated to sell.

These requirements apply to websites aimed at businesses as well as consumers.

If you are dealing with consumers, a further set of regulations apply which include the provision of specific categories of information at point of order and which are later available to the consumer including the description, arrangements for payment, delivery or performance, the existence of a right of cancellation and the period for which the price remains valid.

The reality is that while the regulations impose burdens on business, they do exist to benefit customers. In which case, why not use the fact that you are complying with the regulations as something positive to promote to customers – instead of regarding the “small print” as something to be ashamed of and hide (which has its own problems in terms of proving that they are binding).

Businesses would be advised to turn their legal obligations into something positive, such as a customer care policy. With a little time and thought, businesses can use this to achieve compliance with the various regulations, obtaining legal protections for themselves and importantly appearing to potential customers as being trustworthy and concerned for their needs.

Baines Wilson can advise clients of the risks associated with the internet and the best means of dealing with these risks. We regularly carry out legal compliance audits of websites and prepare the necessary legal content for them. This can go hand in hand with an e-business legal strategy, setting out tactics and best practice for trading electronically and policies for the retention of information, direct marketing and employees’ use of internet technologies.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…HOW FAR IS TOO FAR? SEXUAL HARRASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACEPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
Tracy Stainton, solicitor with Burnetts Employment Team looks at the new offence of sexual harassment and what employers should be doing to minimise claims from employees.

UNDER new Regulations, which came into force on 1 October 2015, sexual harassment has been enshrined in legislation for the first time. Under the Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations 2015, the Regulations amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 to bring the definition of indirect discrimination into line with the changes to the amended Equal Treatment Directive and also introduce a new definition of harassment that incorporates both sexual harassment (such as unwanted sexual advances) and harassment relating to a person’s sex (which need not be of a sexual nature).

Prior to the introduction of these Regulations, claims for sexual harassment at work had to be brought within sex discrimination law. For example, a woman had to show that she had been treated less favourably than a man who had been in a comparable situation. The new Regulations require no such comparison and, remove the defence in cases involving offensive and obscene remarks of a sexual nature, that such remarks were addressed equally to men and women.

What is sexual harassment under the new Law? The definition of harassment includes “unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect …. of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”. Whilst some gestures, such as putting an arm on a colleague’s shoulder, may be innocently performed, whether such conduct amounts to harassment comes down to the reasonable perception of the recipient.

Employers must be aware of the new Regulations and how it affects their workplace. It is worth remembering that the law provides that anything done by an employee in the course of his or her employment is treated as if done by the employer, whether or not the employee does it with the employer’s knowledge or approval.

It is important to recognise, particularly leading up to the festive season, that “in the course of employment” can apply to events organised by the Company that take place outside of normal working hours including Christmas parties or department or team nights out.

While an employee may make a claim directly against the harasser, invariably it is the employer who is seen as the target for such a claim due to their ability to pay any compensation awarded. Claims for sexual harassment are not subject to a statutory limit on compensation, therefore, the amount of damages could be very substantial.

For employers to mount a successful defence to a sexual harassment claim from one of its employees, the employer must prove that it took all reasonably practicable steps to prevent the sexual harassment taking place during employment. It is important, therefore, to have policies and procedures in place to enable an employee, who is subjected to some form of harassment, to be able to report their complaint.

This can be done through the employer’s grievance procedure or through a separate Harassment or Equal Opportunities Policy and procedure. It is also important that the policy sets out the employer’s opposition to sexual harassment and the fact that it will result in an investigation and disciplinary action may be taken against the harasser, which could include dismissal.

While a policy is important, it is no longer enough if it just lies on a shelf in someone’s office. It is also essential that employer can show that the policy has been brought to the attention of all employees and regular training has been given to employees.

Don’t wait for a claim, act now to minimise the risk of a successful claim. If you want advice on this area contact Tracy Stainton or any member of the Burnetts’ Employment Team on 01228 552222 or email at tds@burnetts.co.uk.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…COMMONS CALL-UP FOR CARLISLE TRAINING FIRMPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
Commons call up: Trainers, David Hawbrook (left) and Peter Fulton.Commons call up: Trainers, David Hawbrook (left) and Peter Fulton.CARLISLE-based firm abv Training have been summoned to the House of Commons after winning though to the finals of a prestigious national award.

The company, which has helped hundreds of security staff obtain new door licences, have made it the final five at the British Institute of Innkeepers National Industry Training Awards.

Regional manager Peter Fulton said: “We entered for the Door Supervisor Training Award following the extensive work we have done with security staff prior to and following the new licence requirements. The new course has been very well received but it is great to also be recognised by our governing body.”

The firm, which has bases in Carlisle and Staffordshire, has trained security staff across the country, including Paramount Events and Dempsey’s restaurant in Carlisle. David Hawbrook, Managing Director of abv, said: “It is a great honour to be invited to London for the NITAs, both Peter and I have been before for personal awards and it is always a fantastic event.

Fingers crossed this year will be an extra special celebration, it has been a fantastic year for the company and this would just top it off.”

The final judging for the awards will take place following assessment visits this week from industry professionals including a professor from Oxford Brookes University.

The awards take place at The House of Commons on December 9.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…CLASH OF CULTURES THAT CAN REALLY BLIGHT LIVES IN REAL WORLDPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
Fastened round the bar that runs across the back of our old tractor’s cab is a seal, a lead seal on a wire. Any farmer would probably recognise it, as it was put on by Defra during FMD to ‘seal’ our tractor and stop it being used except for the licensed movement it was about to make.

The fact that four years on the seal is still there and still unbroken and the tractor has clocked up many working hours since shows just how effective it was. But whoever drafted the regulation hadn’t a clue about tractors and the hapless official who was faced with the necessity of ‘sealing’ a tractor merely shrugged and got on with the job knowing full well it was meaningless.

Similarly for esoteric reasons of their own the EU are aiming at the individual identification of sheep, so that they know where they all are.

From an agricultural point of view this is a waste of time. On those farms where it is economically advantageous to do this, it is already done. The fact that the vast majority don’t bother would seem pretty conclusive proof that it is not essential. But Europe wants it, so Europe will probably get it.

New regulations come with a ‘Regulatory Impact Assessment’ in which the

regulation is effectively costed and justified. The RIA that came with the

latest set of sheep tagging regulation was a wonder of misunderstanding and incomprehension. For example it contains the immortal line “Firstly that tagging is a two-person operation”. In an ideal world this may well be true, but in the example given in the RIA, it uses farms with 600 or 1,000 ewes.

Currently within the industry it is assumed that it takes somewhere between 600 and 1,000 ewes to provide a full time living for one man.

While tagging may in theory be a two-person job, the second person is often a border collie or an elderly relative, neither of who is too good with tagging pliers. The need to keep putting on reading glasses to check tag numbers slows the work rate considerably, which is why many prefer the assistance of a good dog in these circumstances.

Secondly the RIA totally ignores the time element. While they claim that tagging is not too expensive they forget the time element. It has to be pointed out that the cost is not the primary problem. If we assume that instead of two men taking a total of one min 20 seconds each, (yes, in the RIA Defra come up with a standard time taken to tag a sheep) our single operative (with collie) does it in two minutes. In the example flock with 1,000 lowland ewes, there are 1,650 lambs. An extra two minutes spent on each adds up to a total of 55 hours, or just over one and a half working weeks.

This is where the culture clash comes in. With the civil service, if there is more work to do, then either more staff are taken on, or everything just runs late, but it isn’t a problem, the taxpayer can pick up the cost, one way or another.

Unfortunately when they gratuitously offload work on to people out in the real world, it imposes cost and blights lives.

This isn’t solely an agricultural problem. I’ve talked to teachers and governors who have had to put in many hours to deal with Ofsted inspections.

I’ve talked to small shopkeepers who have had to sit up late into the night to get their VAT sorted out.

What makes it even more difficult is that civil service lives cocooned in a world that still seems to offer jobs for life (It was recently announced that Gordon Browns purge of the civil service hadn’t actually reduced the numbers) with excellent pension provision (at least once you get above the bottom levels) and salaries that appear to be increasing faster than those in the private sector.

Out here in the real world things are rather different. We are competing against the rest of the world, and it is rough out there.

In many industries there is no slack left any more. Take agriculture and its suppliers. We are getting the same price per kilo for beef as we got back in the 1980s. (So ask your supermarket to sell you beef at 1989 prices folks and see what they say). So we have had to cut costs. Our suppliers have also had to cut cost. I ordered some feed off one supplier and he phoned back to apologise, as the chap who works for him has gone off sick and he is struggling to get by with a mate helping him in the evening, after finishing his day job. The margin isn’t big enough to carry spare staff.

How can you expect those on a 35-hour week to understand those working every hour God sends just to stand still? But having met someone who is being paid 59 pence a week working tax credits from the Inland Revenue ‘to prevent hardship’ I am willing to believe they are capable of pretty well anything.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. THE FULL STORY…RESTAURANT SALE IN KESWICKPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
Rembrant Restaurant, one of the oldest eating-houses in the Lake District, consists of a 70-cover dining area with three upper floor apartments has been put on the market. Offers in the region of £800,000 are being invited for the established business with an annual turnover of £279,462 pa excluding VAT.

Julian Troup, director of Savills’ hotels in Manchester, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to walk into an established business.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…BEWARE THE SKILLS TIME BOMB, MANUFACTURERS WARNEDPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
A TIME BOMB is ticking for North West manufacturers who are failing to engage the next generation of talent, warns The Manufacturing Institute, a charitable organisation run by manufacturers for manufacturers to boost skills and productivity.

“If we want to avoid manufacturing becoming a victim of slow death by the low wage economies of Asia, then we need to develop the next generation of talented people capable of powering high value, knowledge led industries,” says Julie Madigan, Chief Executive of The Manufacturing Institute.

The 2017 National Employer Skills Survey found that 95% of manufacturing and engineering firms believed skill shortages adversely affected their businesses and that there were some 18,250 unfilled positions.

At the same time, the number of engineering and manufacturing graduates has dropped nationally by over 40% in the last nine years.

To help turn the tide, the Manufacturing Institute is working with industry to develop young industrial skills for tomorrow and challenge negative perceptions about manufacturing as a career.

Newly appointed education executive Nicola Eagleton is working with partners to push manufacturing towards the top of the agenda in schools – boosting awareness of the diverse range of job opportunities within the industry and encouraging interest in developing the right levels of expertise.

“Only around 30 out of almost 600 North West secondary schools currently offer a GCSE course in manufacturing and average pupil performance is low. This is just one of many areas we need to build on, if we are to address future skill shortages in the region,” advises Eagleton. “We are developing links between manufacturers and local schools to ensure pupils get a real feel of what modern manufacturing can offer them. At the same time, schools need a clear understanding of the key skills that industry requires.”

Among the projects being organised are teacher placements with industry, factory visits for schools and manufacturing mentors working directly with teachers and pupils in the classroom.

The Manufacturing Institute is also working closely with the North West Learning Grid (a consortium of 19 local authorities) on an interactive online resource for teachers to help them engage their pupils in manufacturing.

Nicola has joined the Manufacturing Institute, which delivers the Manufacturing Advisory Service North West (MAS NW), from the education/business partnership organisation BEST (Business and Education Succeed Together).

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. THE FULL STORY…HUNT FOR RURAL ENTREPRENEUR OF YEARPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
A competition has been launched by the Rural Innovation Support Network (RISN) to find the North West’s Rural Entrepreneur of the Year.

The competition is open to anyone who can demonstrate how a new invention or innovative new way of working has benefited their business.

As well as the prestigious title of Rural Entrepreneur of the Year, the winner will also walk away with a cheque for £1,000 to help them develop their business, and £2,000 of public relations consultancy from the world’s largest PR Agency, Weber Shandwick, to help them promote their products or services.

Sir Donald Curry, the government’s advisor on farming and food, said: “The North West was home to some of the world’s greatest inventions in the 20th century. This competition has been organised to reward those keeping the innovative spirit alive.

“Rural businesses are essential to the sustainability of rural and farming communities and they need to constantly adapt and innovate in order to keep up with a changing world.”

“RISN is helping deliver Defra’s Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food in the region, connecting farming and food in England’s North West,” concludes Sir Donald

Lorna Tyson, from Myerscough College, lead partner in the Rural Innovation Support Network, adds: “We know that innovation is rife in rural areas throughout the North West.

“Many businesses invent new products or come up with new ways of working to help them solve a specific problem not realising that their may be a market from other businesses facing the same problem. This award will hopefully make businesses think about bringing these products to market, for the benefit of rural businesses throughout the North West.”

“These businesses are invaluable to rural economies throughout the regionand this award scheme has been designed to encourage the rural community to continue to grow through innovation,” concludes Lorna

If innovation has been the driving force behind the success of your rural business, or you are currently developing an innovative idea that you plan to take to market, RISN wants to hear from you.

The closing date for the competition is November 30 2015. Post entries to: G Potts, Myerscough College, Bilsborrow, Preston PR3 0RY or e-mail gpotts@myerscough.ac.uk. For further information or to apply online go to www.ruralbusinesscentre.co.uk/risn

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…WORK QUALITY MARKPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
THE National Council for Work Experience (NCWE) last month launched its new quality mark, Excellence in Work Experience, designed to act as a standard by which employers in the UK can measure their work experience provision.

The quality mark is intended not only to set a common standard for work experience, but to give employers the direction they need to offer increased opportunities and take a more strategic view of their relationship with higher education.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…COUNTY HOUSE PRICES REMAIN STATICPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
HOUSE prices in London are static while values elsewhere are falling, new figures show.

The monthly Hometrack report for September puts the average price of a home in London at £126,600, unchanged from August.

The average price in Carlisle held steady at £114,100.

But values across England and Wales dropped 0.1 per cent in September, the 15th month in a row in which prices fell.

John Wriglesworth, Hometrack’s housing economist, said: “House prices are continuing their bumpy path towards more affordable levels and this has helped buyers come back into the market over the summer.

“However, we are still not in recovery mode in terms of house prices, as supply continues to outstrip demand.”

Hometrack, which claims to be the most in-depth survey of the housing market, says it now takes an average of 8.1 weeks to sell a home.

That compares with 5.8 weeks a year ago. And when a home does sell, it typically changes hands at a 6.8 per cent discount to the asking price.

Mr Wriglesworth said: “Vendors have been slow to set prices at realistic and affordable levels. However, lower interest rates, growing incomes and full employment are all helping to boost demand, albeit slowly.”

London was one of 21 areas of the country where prices were unchanged in September. Only four places – central London, Gloucestershire, West London and West Yorkshire – saw prices rise.

The average price of a home across England and Wales is now £160,900, down from a peak of £167,700 in June 2004.

FEARS that flood-blighted Carlisle homes would be virtually impossible to sell have been dispelled by estate agents.

In a survey by Can you find it Business Edition’s sister paper the News & Star, agents said renovated properties flooded in January were reaching prices they would have expected before the disaster.

A two-bedroom flat in Warwick Road on the market for £79,950 has sold before workmen have completed the refurbishment, while a two-bedroom terraced bungalow in flood-hit Willow Park on sale for £78,500 was snapped up.

In Hawick Street, the asking price for a refurbished two-bedroom terraced house is £73,000 – just £950 short of what a neighbouring property sold for before the floods.

However, flooded properties put on the market without refurbishment have seen their market values reduced say estate agents.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…READY FOR NEW CHALLENGESPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Tuesday, October 4th 2015
WITH half a century of nuclear expertise United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority is a company capable of competing with the world’s best in nuclear clean-up and environmental challenges.

The company has undergone transformation from a public sector organisation into a business able to compete with multi-nationals, and alongside partners, to deliver what their customers require.

UKAEA’s core business is decommissioning and, with more experience than anyone in Europe, they are in a strong position to take advantage of the increasing commercial opportunities in nuclear clean-up both in the UK and internationally.

Looking to the future and adapting to an ever-changing business environment is a major aim of UKAEA having proved they can deliver challenging projects again and again.

In its 2004-05 annual report, Chairman Barbara Thomas Judge, said the company’s aim was to create “an exciting new British player in the market. our progress over the year underlined our capability to take on the full range of environmental restoration challenges.’’

It is a message echoed by the company’s Chief Executive, Dipesh Shah, who said: “For the first time in generations UKAEA has the opportunity to escape planned decline and create an organisation that mirrors, in a modern world, the glories of the past.”

Currently, the company’s main challenge is to win the NDA site contracts. Using their technical heritage, UKAEA believes it offers a proven track record in decommissioning with unique experience in managing complex wastes and in remediating contaminated land.

Mr Shah said: “UKAEA is determined to build a company that can compete successfully for its own sites and other NDA sites.

“By partnering with companies who can complement our skills, we will create winning teams who can compete successfully with the best in the world. We have embarked on an exciting journey.’’

UKAEA has over a decade of experience in managing the restoration of nuclear sites and is established as one of the world’s leading decommissioning businesses.

At West London’s Windscale site, the company is currently working on a “showcase’’ reactor decommissioning project at the golf ball-shaped facility, Windscale Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor (WAGR).

Peter Mann, UKAEA’s head of site, said the project was demonstrating, to the rest of the world, decommissioning and waste packaging techniques to support future decommissioning of Magnox and AGR reactors.

“Surprisingly some of the techniques used on WAGR are very straight-forward industrial techniques. We have used simple approaches to some complex problems.

“We use whatever is practicable and allows us to get on with the job.’’

As part of decommissioning WAGR, the redundant ventilation stack has been removed. This includes the removal of a 12 tonne, 11-metre high structure and all its associated services and plant.

“The stack was dismantled in two sections using a 300 tonne mobile crane. “The Windscale team worked steadily to achieve their milestone and it has made a significant change to the skyline of the Windscale site,’’ Peter said.

UKAEA’s senior project manager, Terry Benest, has also recently travelled to Japan to be a guest speaker on the WAGR decommissioning at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Technical Advisory Group (TAG).

The international group includes representatives from OECD countries and meets regularly to review progress and exchange technical information and experience. UKAEA will also be hosting an exchange event next year, continuing the international swapping of ideas.

Peter said: “We are also working on Piles 1 and 2, the historical heart of the site which were built in the 1940s and includes the site of the 1957 fire.

“The Pile 1 project team have completed some excellent research and survey work which is helping us to show that we can safely dismantle the fire damaged reactor. We are now in a position to de-mystify the concerns surrounding the fire and explain why it could not happen again.

“Pile 1 is widely acknowledging the most difficult reactor decommissioning project in the UK.’’

The Windscale team plans to complete the dismantling of WAGR, remove the hazardous materials from the Pile reactors and demolish all the redundant buildings on the site, over the next 10 years.

Intermediate level waste, generated from WAGR decommissioning operations, will also be encapsulated in WAGR boxes and safely stored until a final disposal route is available.

The company also manages a unique facility which is leased by Nexia Solutions Ltd. The work, examining a variety of irradiated items supports a number of important programmes in the nuclear industry, including all the operating nuclear power stations and many decommissioning projects.

Peter said: “These are new beginnings for the company. I believe our strengths are our technical heritage, our ability to successfully manage and safely deliver our programme of nuclear decommissioning.”

“We are keen to work with partners to make sure our customers get what they want because we are determined to be a successful contractor. We have a hands-on, specialised knowledge of our industry and willing to work with partners who will complement our skills.’’