Union ‘shocked and concerned’ by departure of Tony Fountain

The head of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has quit his post.

Former BP executive Tony Fountain is returning to the oil and gas sector.

Fountain had been in the job for less than two years. He was Britain’s highest paid civil servant with a salary of £680,000.

He is joining a Mumbai-based energy company Reliance, which recently signed a £4.6bn deal with BP.

The Prospect union expressed “shock and concern” at the departure.

Deputy General Secretary Mike Clancy said: “We had a good relationship with Tony Fountain which allowed for a robust dialogue on the challenges facing the NDA and the industry.”

Clancy said his departure suggested policy differences at the NDA. “A change in strategy would be unwelcome when the industry needs stability.”

He said: “An early replacement for Fountain with suitable private sector experience is essential and we expect the industry will want guarantees that NDA strategy will not be derailed.”

Glancy said the NDA will soon be deciding on the future construction of a MOX 2 plant as part of its consultation on plutonium options, being announced at the end of October. It is also due to choose a new parent body company to run Dounreay.

NDA Chairman Stephen Henwood said: “We are disappointed to be losing him and wish him every success. The NDA’s mission remains one of the most exciting and challenging roles in the public sector and we look forward to finding a suitably experienced and skilled successor, a process that has already begun.”