There is overwhelming local support for Sweden’s planned geological disposal facility (GDF). Three out of four residents in the host community of Östhammar are in favour of the project.
The level of local public support for the project was revealed in the annual opinion poll conducted in the Östhammar Municipality on behalf of the Swedish GDF delivery body, SKB.
SKB measures public opinion in the community every year. It is the kind of on-going measurement of local opinion that will be required in the UK when communities here are actively engaged in discussions about hosting a GDF.
In the Swedish poll, based on 800 telephone interviews, 77 percent of the respondents in Östhammar said that they were “completely in favour” or “in favour” of plans to build the final repository for radioactive waste in their community. SKB’s CEO Eva Halldén also pointed out the sustained level of support, saying: “What is particularly gratifying is that the high figures are so stable over time.”
The opinion poll also found a high level of confidence in SKB, with 76 percent of local respondents stating that they have a “very high” or “rather high” level of confidence in the company.
Such weight of local community support is despite the uncertainty created by Sweden’s Environmental Court decision earlier this year, when the Court expressed concerns about the long-term safety of the copper canisters in which waste is placed.
The regulatory approval and licensing process continues to move forward, and the Swedish Government has now formally asked SKB to respond, by early 2019, to questions raised by the Environmental Court.
But before the Swedish Government comes to a decision, local people will be consulted in a referendum. This is because the community has the right of veto on whether to proceed or not — very similar to the “Test of Public Support” proposed in the UK.