UK : Country Update : September 2018

Most UK media coverage during the summer centred around the National Policy Statement.  There was extensive national, local and trade media coverage of the Business Select Committee’s approval for the draft GDF National Policy Statement (NPS) on 31 July.

The Select Committee is a group of MPs who provide Parliamentary oversight of the Government’s pans and activities.  The NPS sets out the framework within which future planning decisions on the GDF will operate.  As the report notes, this planning process is separate to the siting process.  You can read the Committee’s Report and its recommendations here.

The media headlined on “government plans to bury radioactive waste” in the UK’s most environmentally-protected zones.  A great headline, but not necessarily supported by the facts.  After the initial media coverage (31 July) technical/scientific media revived the headline as “experts back government plans to bury nuclear waste” (6 August).  A political website, Politics Home, was alone in factually explaining the Government’s policy (15 August).

Ahead of a House of Lords debate on the NPS, the Cumbria Trust urged their Lordships to protect National Parks (23 August).  Following the debate in the House of Lords, Radiation Free Lakeland expressed frustration at the quality and nature of the debate, and that GDF policy was still being continued.

There continues to be concern about the potential for a GDF to be sited in or under a national park, resulting in a jointly-signed letter sent to the Secretary of State by a number of conservation and environmental groups (28 September).

The issues of radioactive waste management and geological disposal were more broadly addressed in two articles on nuclear policy in The Conversation magazine.  The first article argued that the nuclear sector could be a national treasure if the waste issue could be tackled (28 August), the second article focused on Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent change of heart on nuclear energy since becoming Labour Party leader (28 September).

The BBC reported on a Public Accounts Committee report concerned that the MoD are not making sufficient provision for the future support of the nuclear submarine fleet, including the disposal of radioactive waste (21 September).

Other coverage related to radioactive waste management was primarily technical.  Including:

  • UK’s decommissioning challenge driving scientific innovation (11 September)
  • Oxford academics developing a 3D-system for monitoring impact on the geology when drilling a GDF (18 September)
  • Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) joining forces to share expertise in decommissioning and radioactive waste management (19 September).
  • NDA and RWM announcing they were teaming up with UK universities in a new c£10million programme called TRANSCEND (Transformative Science and Engineering for Nuclear Decommissioning) to help build the next generation of nuclear experts as well as develop technical solutions in dealing with decommissioning and radioactive waste management (24 September).

Whether Cumbria should host a GDF was on the agenda at a Nuclear Conference being held in Cumbria (14 September).  And finally, a local blogger called out Folkestone & Hythe Council for allegedly withholding information about attendance at events where a GDF was discussed (18 September).