The UK government has launched a consultation on its proposed process for working with communities to agree a site for a deep geological disposal facility (GDF) for high-activity radioactive waste.
Under the new proposed approach, communities would be provided with more information at an earlier stage in the process, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said. A "positive community-wide demonstration of support" would also be required before a community could host a GDF; and communities would have an on-going right to withdraw from the process.
The new approach comes after Cumbria County Council voted to withdraw from the siting process in January 2013. At the time, another local authority (Copeland Borough Council) had wished to continue with the process.
The government said that it "continues to believe that geological disposal, preceded by safe and secure interim storage, is the right policy for the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste." A multi-billion pound GDF "would provide a permanent solution for the disposal of existing legacy waste, and waste from new nuclear power stations," it said.
The site selection process would "vary according to the specific needs of the community, but could take around 15 years, with construction taking a further 15 years," according to DECC.
Over 1000 people could be employed on the site during its construction, with over 500 staff employed on average each year over the 100-year life of the facility, it said.
The consultation runs from 12 September to 5 December 2013. In 2014, DECC plans to "re-launch the national site selection process."