The UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said on 17 October that the government has designated its National Policy Statement (NPS) for Geological Disposal Infrastructure, following completion of 21 parliamentary sitting days on 2 October. BEIS also published the Appraisal of Sustainability (AOS) Post Adoption Statement and the Final Habitats and Regulation Assessment (HRA) report. Geological disposal infrastructure includes any deep geological facility for disposing of higher activity radioactive waste, and the deep borehole investigations needed to characterise the geology at a particular site to assess its suitability for a geological disposal facility. The NPS sets out the need for infrastructure related to the geological disposal of higher activity radioactive waste in England and the government's approach to delivering it, and planning guidance for developers of nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) related to geological disposal.
The NPS, AOS and HRA were open for consultation from 25 January to 19 April 2018. Following the public consultation, the draft NPS underwent parliamentary scrutiny, including from the Committee for BEIS and the House of Lords. Based on these discussions, the government then revised the NPS. Umran Nazir, deputy director for decommissioning, radioactive material and geological disposal facility at BEIS, said 87 responses were received from UK bodies and members of the UK public as well as 360 campaign responses from individuals in Germany. The NPS, along with the Working with Communities policy document that was published in December 2018, sets out the framework for managing radioactive waste through geological disposal and the process for how the government will work with communities to find a location for this facility.
The UK has accumulated radioactive waste from a range of activities including nuclear power generation, medicine, research and defence-related nuclear programmes. While most can be disposed of in surface facilities, a suitable facility is still needed for higher activity radioactive waste.