For the first time, business, Trade Unions and Local Authority organisations have publicly expressed their combined support for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).
Each recognises the transformative effect a GDF would have on a local or regional economy, and the broader contribution it could make to jobs, skills and training, growth, and the export of British expertise to a trillion dollar global marketplace in nuclear decommissioning.
The Institute of Directors (IoD) believes a GDF would boost a local economy, create new opportunities in the UK supply chain, support decarbonisation of energy generation, and reduce long term decommissioning costs to the taxpayer, saying:
“Above ground waste requires additional security, safety, and monitoring at all times. Nor is the waste confined to that from nuclear power stations, but will increasingly be needed for MRI scanners, other medical and industrial equipment and future small modular reactors. Running costs for a Geological Disposal Facility storing the waste 1000 metres below the surface would be significantly lower. Even if the UK never builds another nuclear power station after Hinkley Point C, we will still need a GDF to bring down the cost of nuclear waste.”
The Local Government Association’s (LGA) special interest group, the Nuclear Legacy Advisory Forum (NuLeAF), welcomes the Government’s consultations but makes clear the importance they attach to ensuring local communities are fully engaged and involved in the siting process. A spokesperson said:
“A deep geological repository represents the best current solution for disposing of our high-level radioactive wastes. Such material will pose risks to people and the environment for hundreds of thousands of years, and locking it away underground will remove it from human contact and the risk of accidents.
“Any community hosting it will be providing a national service and this must be recognised. In addition to the employment and the direct economic impact generated by such a large project, we want to see significant additional funds invested in improving infrastructure and environmental quality. Local authorities are the democratically accountable representatives of their communities, with expertise in planning, economic development, and environmental enhancement. They, and the local people they represent, must be at the heart of this development process.”
Rupert Clubb, immediate past President of ADEPT, the professional body of local authority Directors responsible for economic development added:
“Growth is fundamental to thriving communities. We must face up to the elephant in the room and not be another generation that passes this problem onto their children. And in tackling the issue, we create economic and other opportunities for this generation, and keep options open for future generations.”
Trade Unions also focus on the future and next generations, seeing the GDF as a way to develop skills and training, particularly in the engineering sector, which could underpin significant growth opportunities for UK companies, as the trillion dollar global nuclear decommissioning market develops over the next decade. Deputy General Secretary of Prospect, Dai Hudd said:
“Prospect continues to be at the heart of plans and campaigning to maintain our key expertise in this highly developed industry, boosting skills and improving training. A GDF provides an additional focal point for this country to train a new generation in high-skilled, well-paid jobs, to ensure the UK is well-placed to leverage its international reputation and expertise in the global nuclear decommissioning market.”