The headline survey results do not at first sight look good for RWM, with low levels of stakeholder confidence in the organisation’s ability to successfully relaunch the GDF siting process and engage with communities. However, there is a much more nuanced story to tell as you delve into the detail of the figures.
When asked directly “Based on your level of contact with RWM, are you confident they will be ready to successfully relaunch the siting process and engage with communities effectively?”:
This perspective seems to be reinforced by the survey result showing 25% of respondents believe RWM’s lack of preparedness is the main risk to the GDF programme.
However, while the survey results relating to the role of local authorities revealed uniformity of concern across the stakeholder base, there are significant variations of confidence levels between different stakeholder groups. An analysis of this data provides RWM with a potentially more positive picture for the future.
An analysis of responses by stakeholder sector reveal a correlation between confidence level and prior engagement with RWM, ie the more closely you work with RWM, the more likely you are to have confidence in their ability to deliver. This correlation is particularly noticeable in the local authority sector.
Local authority respondents to the survey were confident that:
a) the GDF siting process would start in 2019, and that
b) RWM could successfully deliver the siting process and community engagement.
Given the marked difference in positivity of responses between local authority respondents and those from other stakeholder segments, it can be no coincidence that RWM have invested significant effort and resources over the past five years in building bridges with and actively engaging the local authority sector – in a way it has not done with other stakeholder sectors.
Indeed, the lowest levels of confidence are amongst GDF critics and those sectors which have not yet been fully engaged by RWM. This suggests that the sooner RWM engages constructively and consistently with these sectors, the sooner confidence levels will rise — preferably before the siting process relaunches.
RWM clearly has to understand why significant portions of the nuclear industry, academia and other public bodies (stakeholder sectors with whom they work regularly and closely) still lack confidence in their ability to successfully deliver the GDF siting programme. But the data also clearly shows the value of working more collaboratively and openly with stakeholder groups in order to build confidence and trust.
The survey findings bear out the findings of the Government’s own independent watchdog, the Infrastructure & Projects Authority (IPA). In their most recent report, they raise the risk level of the GDF programme, but note that RWM have made strides forward since that assessment was made. RWM tell GDFWatch that they will shortly announce a significant investment and step-change in their communications and engagement activity. This augurs well, and we encourage RWM to embrace not just engagement but genuine collaboration and partnership with stakeholders, particularly those who will be at the community sharp end.