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This blog post was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

We’ve listened: a new approach to managing our radioactive waste

Today we’ve set out our renewed approach to find a suitable site to dispose of the country’s higher-activity radioactive waste.

This waste exists from decades of enjoying the benefits of low-carbon electricity from nuclear power. We must manage this material responsibly and, in doing so, we can also support the development of new, clean, low-carbon nuclear electricity generation in the UK by ensuring there is a safe, modern facility for permanent disposal of waste.

Geological disposal is the responsible thing to do; placing the waste deep underground will keep it away from people and the environment.   And it’s acknowledged across the world as the best available option for dealing with radioactive waste on a long-term basis – one that doesn’t rely on future generations to manage it. Sweden, Finland and France are already several years into their geological disposal projects.  You can read more about their progress on the NDA website.

As you can see when you read the White Paper, communities will play an important role in this process.

Since the previous siting process, we’ve done a lot of listening: to the people that were engaged in the previous process; to the scientists, engineers and experts that understand how geological disposal could work in practice, including the independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management and bodies like the Geological Society; to industry figures such as the Nuclear Industry Association; NGOs and the general public who took part in our consultation process.

We’ve spoken to many interested parties around the country about how to improve the siting process, for example it was evident that communities are more likely to get involved if they are clear about what the potential benefits – including impact on local economy and what is known about the geology in their area.

So we’ve listened and taken this on board – and that’s why the White Paper sets out a new process which will give communities the clarity they need.

Over the next two years we’ll be engaging with experts and the public on a number of subjects such as:
• using geological data to provide more robust information on the potential for siting a GDF across the country;
• who should represent a host community and how;
• the planning process;
• environmental impacts, and
• potential benefits.

Building and running a geological disposal facility (GDF) is a multi-billion pound project which will bring investment and benefits to the community that hosts it, and skilled jobs for hundreds of people over many decades.

I look forward to engaging over the next few years as we build greater understanding on all these issues and work together towards delivery of this significant, national infrastructure project.

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