Government re-launches search for communities to host new nuclear waste storage site

A national policy statement for nuclear waste storage is due be designated next year, the government has announced, as it re-launched its search for a community to agree to host such a facility.

Nuclear: fresh search launched for waste storage site
Nuclear: fresh search launched for waste storage site

A written ministerial statement yesterday by Richard Harrington, the minister with responsibility for nuclear energy, announced that the government had re-started its search for a community to host a nuclear waste facility.

Previous efforts were abandoned in 2013 after Cumbria County Council's cabinet voted against progressing with plans to allow nuclear waste to be buried deep beneath the Cumbrian countryside.

In January, the government published a consultation setting out "how the project developer will engage with people in areas that may be interested in hosting a disposal facility to seek their views".

Alongside this, the government published a consultation on a draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for Geological Disposal Infrastructure.

This would be used as the primary basis for the examination by the Planning Inspectorate and for decisions by the secretary of state in considering development consent applications for geological disposal infrastructure that fall within the definition of nationally significant infrastructure projects.

Documents published alongside yesterday’s ministerial statement say that the NPS "is expected to be designated in 2019".

A separate document outlining how communities would be consulted on such proposals as they emerge says the government will take forward "a right of withdrawal" for communities.

This would allow communities to withdraw from the process to site a nuclear waste facility "at any time, for any reason", up to the point at which a "test of public support is undertaken". This test could be carried out using a range of methods, including a local referendum, a formal consultation or statistically representative polling, the document says.

The document says that interested communities could receive up to £1 million per year in the early part of the geological disposal facility siting process, rising to up to £2.5 million per community, per year for communities that progress to the "deep borehole investigation" stage.

More details on the process can be found here. 

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