The Local Government Association’s special interest group on radioactive waste, NuLeAF, explain why the UK’s Local Authorities support geological disposal, and set out their expectations of Government policy. Guided by a government White Paper published in 2014, the Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) will be the repository for the UK’s higher-level radioactive waste. It will involve the construction of a highly-engineered facility many hundreds of metres below the surface and spreading out over several kilometres. Once all the waste has been placed in the site it will be permanently sealed. Given the nature of the material being disposed of, and the scale of the repository, this is clearly a huge technical challenge. However an even greater challenge is political. The Government is clear – the GDF will not be imposed on a community; instead a consenting host area will have to be found. As such, local government is central to the GDF siting process, and NuLeAF, as the Local Government Association’s representative body on nuclear decommissioning, has been active in shaping the government’s approach. NuLeAF’s view is that a deep geological repository represents the best current solution for disposing of our high-level radioactive wastes. In line with CoRWM, the UK Government’s expert independent advisory group, we believe that we must dismantle and make safe our ‘high hazard’ legacy nuclear sites. Such material will pose risks to people and the environment for hundreds of thousands of years, and locking it away underground will remove it from human contact and the risk of accidents. Such ‘deep disposal’ is agreed internationally as the best solution and similar facilities are already under development in France, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland.
GDF Watch (accessed) 19th Feb 2018 read more »
Bizarrely, an obscure government consultation may hold the key to advancing true Localism. Odd as it may sound, but nuclear waste management policy could be a vehicle for turning recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Localism into reality, by supporting the creation of a radical new democratic model that empowers communities to shape their own future.
GDF Watch 16th Feb 2018 read more »
Sir John Armitt has called for more proactive public engagement on infrastructure projects. The new Chair of the The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) was speaking at publication of the NIC’s first Annual Monitoring Report. Sir John is reported saying there is a “need for professions who deliver infrastructure to realise that if they want their work to be accepted they have to get out there and explain, in words that are plain English, what it is about and why it is necessary.” The Report basically observes that Government needs to do more, more urgently, if the UK is to retain international economic competitiveness. Sir John also regretfully noted that a key issue is short-term political decision-making, saying: “It is a sad thing about politics, isn’t it? The short-termism. At the end of the day ministers know they have an election coming two or three years down the line and will be remembered by what costs went up and which went down.” Avoiding the pitfalls of political short-termism is one of the key proposals in the Working With Communities (WWC) public consultation. However, absent from the NIC Report is any mention of the consultations or Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). The NIC is in the early stages of its life, so perhaps it’s not surprising that it has yet to embrace the GDF. But this is a matter which needs addressing sooner rather than later.
GDF Watch 16th Feb 2018 read more »