View from the Local Authority Sector
The following personal opinion is an article from Rupert Clubb, immediate past President of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT). ADEPT is the professional association of those most responsible for managing and delivering sustainable growth in Local Authorities throughout the UK.
If there was ever a more difficult problem to solve there can’t be many more difficult than what to do with our accumulated radioactive waste. It’s not that there isn’t a technical solution, there is. The difficulty of the problem isn’t really about the solution, it’s about how to address people’s fears and involve them in the process.
We’ve been dealt a legacy. It is argued, the fruits of that legacy have brought us reliable power and cleaner air, reducing our dependence on overseas resources and providing more than 21% of our electricity needs. The downside is that previous generations have not dealt with the waste in an effective way. I suppose there are two schools of thought on the whole matter. We could continue to put our heads in the sand, agree this is far too difficult, and let the next generation deal with it. Alternatively we could step up to the plate, have some proper discussions about it, seek views from communities who are up for having a facility on their patch, and make sure they get a fair return.
It is not for the Association of Directors of Economy Environment Planning and Transport (ADEPT) to debate whether or not historical, current or future energy policy is right. This is about how we deal with both legacy and future wastes in a safe, cost effective way that genuinely engages with the people who will live with it for generations.
For ADEPT our focus on good growth is fundamental to thriving communities. We are used to dealing with legacy issues that previous development has left us. We have the strong view that we must put sustainability at the heart of what we do. In 1987 the UN World Commission on Environment and Development released the Brundtland report which said good development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
That’s pretty clear; past generations didn’t do radioactive waste disposal very well. So it is up to us to deal with it. ADEPT welcomes these consultations.. We need to be open with what we’re talking about. It is nuclear waste, and there’s no getting away from that fact. We don’t just need to show it can be dealt with in a safe way and those communities that are up for the conversation can build a sustainable future. We also need to build public trust and confidence. That is the purpose of these consultations, and is why we support this approach.
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.