UK restarts geological disposal process (again)

24 July 2014

The UK Department of Energy & Climate Change has published a new white paper, Implementing Geological Disposal, that lists short-term actions planned to develop a deep geological repository for spent fuel and high-level waste in the UK.

The previous process, based on voluntarism, foundered in 2013 when the last willing community (in west Cumbria) backed out.

Following that, there was a call for evidence and formal public consultation.

"A GDF is likely to bring significant economic benefits to a community that hosts it, in the form of long-term employment and infrastructure investment, and in the form of additional community investment that the UK Government has committed to provide," the report says.

According to the new schedule, a national geological screening process will take place and national land-use policy, will be developed before 2016, when community consultation will begin again.

"This new siting process will provide more information to communities before they are asked to get involved. With greater clarity on issues like geology and development impacts, community investment and community representation, communities will be able to engage with more confidence in the process to deliver this nationally significant infrastructure project," the white paper said.

The process is politically significant because the UK government's policy is not to give development consent for new nuclear power stations before it is "satisfied that effective arrangements exist or will exist to manage and dispose of the waste they will produce."

The government said in July 2011 that it was satisfied with current arrangements, and said in this document that it continues to be satisfied.

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