July 2020 UK Project Management Round Up


Bad news, APM, PMI UK, Coronavirus, Good news and Beavers in Scotland



By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK




It is now more than 100 days since UK began lockdown. We are still dominated by the coronavirus but life is slowly returning to something like “normal”.  Whether we get to “new normal” is debatable but one thing is certain – “new normal” will become one of the words of 2020.  This month I’d like to mention how the professional associations are doing, a brief mention of wildlife projects and a few snippets of project related news.  Categorisation is difficult but I’ll end with the good news.


Reporting bad news about the UK nuclear industry is a little like shooting fish a barrel – not difficult but no fun!  The latest reports concern the graphite bricks which surround the tubes that the control rods pass to moderate the reactor.  These bricks deteriorate over time and those in the elderly reactors are getting close to their sell by date.  This is nothing to be alarmed about as the condition is known and monitored in the 15 reactors on 11 sites.  These reactors supply about 18% of UK’s electricity generating capacity and are being phased out.  For example, Hinkley Point B has two reactors, the first of which closed down in February and the second shut down in early June.  As the plant is scheduled for final shutdown in 2023, decisions on maintenance projects that would enable either or both reactors to restart will need to be taken – a straightforward cost benefit analysis one would hope.

However, such decisions are always complicated since ownership is shared with the French EDF owning 80% and Centrica the balance.  EDF has suffered some pretty poor financial returns over the past few years and it is doubtful that they could afford the cost of projects needed to replace the aging graphite blocks.  To complicate matters, the other Advanced Gas Reactors are likely to be suffering from similar problems which is one reason why they are being phased out in stages between 2023 and 2030.  The replacement reactors are not scheduled to start generating until 2025 at the earliest.  Other reactors are also affected and Hunterston B in Scotland has had many delays to its repair programme.

This situation is monitored by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) who require proof that the control rods will operate effectively, even in the event of a major earthquake.  According to Richard Bradfield, chief technical officer at ONR, such an event has never been known in UK and is described as a once in 10.000-year event.  EDF have already spent over £200 million on test, inspections and modelling.  This latter includes construction of quarter scale models to evaluate the safety case.  Investment decisions are always difficult, in this case as Centrica has been trying to flog its 10% share and the intervention of the virus will have repercussions.


APM has continued its traditional programme but made a number of adjustments to cope with lockdown and social distancing.  The most notable change was the transfer of its conference programme to a two-week long set of webinars.  These ran throughout June and members can access the recordings via the members area on their website.


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How to cite this report: Shepherd, M. (2020). UK Project Management Roundup for July 2020, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue VII, July.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/pmwj95-Jul2020-Shepherd-UK-Regional-Report.pdf



About the Author

Miles Shepherd

Salisbury, UK



Miles Shepherd is an executive editorial advisor and international correspondent for PM World Journal in the United Kingdom. He is also managing director for MS Projects Ltd, a consulting company supporting various UK and overseas Government agencies, nuclear industry organisations and other businesses.  Miles has over 30 years’ experience on a variety of projects in UK, Eastern Europe and Russia.  His PM experience includes defence, major IT projects, decommissioning of nuclear reactors, nuclear security, rail and business projects for the UK Government and EU.  Past Chair, Vice President and Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM), Miles is also past president and chair and a Fellow of the International Project Management Association (IPMA).  He was a Director for PMI’s Global Accreditation Centre and is immediate past Chair of the ISO committee developing new international standards for Project Management and for Program/Portfolio Management.  Miles is Chair of the British Standards Institute’s Committee on Project, Programme and Portfolio Management and has been involved in the development of Uk’s BSI 6079 for more than 25 years.  He was involved in setting up APM’s team developing guidelines for project management oversight and governance.  Miles is based in Salisbury, England and can be contacted at miles.shepherd@msp-ltd.co.uk.

To view other works by Miles Shepherd, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/miles-shepherd/.