Not entirely sure why this public consultation is being held. There is nothing new in it. However, if it’s an indication of a cautious, inclusive approach by RWM to taking wider civil society opinion with it, then it is to be welcomed.
The consultation document brings together all the existing legal, regulatory, environmental, planning and other requirements RWM is obliged to fulfil during the GDF siting process. In some ways it reads a bit like a ‘roadmap’ for communities. It helps:
At this stage, the six headline factors appear sufficiently broad to encompass a wide range of more detailed issues. Understandably the selected criteria are presented from the perspective of delivering the GDF programme, and of creating the necessary transparent platform on which comparative analyses of potential sites and host communities can be made. However, they also read like the basis of a framework for community discussions, which will need to be continually updated and amended.
The 31 March public consultation deadline therefore seems a little arbitrary and pointless, since these issues will evolve over time, not least to include issues of relevance to those communities eventually engaged in the siting process.
A more basic concern is that civil society and community organisations will not have the capacity to make meaningful responses to the consultation by the end of March.
RWM have indicated that there will be a series of regional workshops to help explain the consultation and support better-informed response submissions. These workshops are expected to be held around the country during February. We are awaiting event details from RWM.
However, experience from regional workshops for the National Geological Screening, National Policy Statement and Working With Communities consultations suggest that it is the same organisations which tend to attend these events. While useful for those attending, the workshops are not always the most effective means of reaching out beyond historical core-engaged stakeholders.
RWM are to be applauded for taking an open and inclusive approach, especially when it’s not, procedurally, even technically necessary. We hope that they will continue to keep these issues open as the siting process progresses, rather than a draw a line under them on 31 March 2019.
For a copy of the consultation document and to find out more about the consultation, visit the RWM siting website.
Because radioactive waste management is a devolved responsibility, RWM will be holding a separate but parallel public consultation in Wales. They have produced specific Welsh consultation documents (in both English and Welsh languages). The Welsh public consultation ends on 14 April 2019.