With communities expected to start coming forward shortly, there is still a significant task to flesh-out how Community Partnerships might be structured and managed.
Community Partnerships, and the ‘consent’ basis of the siting selection process, are a completely new frontier in infrastructure development — a collaboration of local community, local authority and central government, to build an intergenerational decision-making body that takes account of local concerns while delivering a nationally-important environmental facility, as the UK’s contribution to international agreement.
This is a unique and unmapped process. It requires innovative thinking. Indeed, new international social science research suggests that geological disposal programs might better be viewed as “real world experiments”.
Accepting this new social frontier challenge, GDFWatch is working with academics, legal experts, local authorities and civil society representatives to explore what the democratic and participative underpinnings of a Community Partnership might look like.
It is highly unlikely that individual small communities will have either the skills or the bandwidth to create a new democratic vehicle. And RWM are obliged to apply the same fundamental contract/criteria to every participating community. More importantly, the creation of Community Partnerships for the GDF siting process will not be happening in a vacuum. There is significant expertise, thinking and activity already in the wider ‘democratic innovation’ field (eg Citizens Assemblies, Devolution, etc) upon which to draw.
There’s been a plethora of guidance published in just the past few weeks alone, eg:
This builds on a vast canon of research and analysis previously reported upon by GDFWatch.
Having a ‘template’ Community Partnership’, in which a community can see their rights being enshrined, will be critical to building trust. If that template has been shaped by a range of civil society players, it will carry more credibility than any drafted by just one party to the agreement.