Ordinary members of the public have been integrally involved in helping to develop a new model for community-based democratic decision-making. It is this model which the Government are expected to shortly consult upon.
One of the admirable features of the development of the ‘consent-based’ community policy for geological disposal, has been the active involvement of ordinary people. If you are designing a “democratic” process, then it clearly makes sense to involve fellow citizens as early as possible in that process.
The Government initially drew upon the experience and insight of an advisory group of experts, called the Community Representation Working Group (CRWG). The members were drawn from academia, the community sector, local authorities and business. This work was supplemented by a Call for Evidence.
This initial phase was then followed by workshops in which ideas were presented to, and discussed by, groups of ordinary people representative of the wider population. There is a report setting out the workshop discussions, and an independent assessment of how effective the workshops were in taking on board the public’s views.
While lengthy, they are fascinating reads for anyone interested in how the public view and articulate the issues. They fully reflect public distrust of politicians (national and local), but highlight the desire to help create a GDF site selection process that reflects a British sense of fairness, democracy and citizen participation.