Why on earth would a community be interested?

When asked would you like to have highly radioactive waste under your homes, the instinctive answer for most people is “No”.  So why on earth would any community even start to consider the possibility?

Looking around the world at other communities who’ve considered or agreed to host a facility, some common themes emerge which begin to explain why.  In the UK, as elsewhere, underpinning everything is a “walk away at any time/no obligations” approach.

Walk Away At Any Time, No Obligations ‘guarantee’

Under the consent-based model, a GDF cannot simply be imposed upon a community.  In the UK, the process requires a ‘Test of Public Support’ before any final decision can be made.  This means that a community can enter into and walk away from discussions at any time before the “final” decision, with no on-going obligations.

This provides a reassuring ‘safe space’, where the community can take their time exploring the potential socioeconomic and environmental benefits, while also assessing and evaluating both real and perceived risks.   It may seem too good to be true, but the process here allows communities to:

  • enter into long-term discussions (about 20-30 years before a decision to proceed has to be made) without commitment
  • remain cautious and concerned until such time as evidence is produced to the contrary
  • withdraw at any time, keeping whatever financial benefits they have accrued
  • have a leading consultancy work with the community to develop a long-term ‘vision’ for their community, paid for by RWM
  • access independent experts, at no cost to the community, to verify any proposal or information from RWM
  • receive a minimum of £1m per annum while remaining in formal discussions (rising to £2.5m as geological investigations progress)

Long-term economic security

Having addressed ‘perceived’ risks and assessed ‘actual’ risks, communities seem to evaluate that the negligible safety risks are worth the realisable long-term economic, social and environmental benefits. A GDF provides steady jobs and income for almost two centuries, which can sustain a viable community and public services, and act as a catalyst for other investments in the local economy.

Intergenerational Legacy

Being able to leave children, grandchildren and future generations better and more stable economic opportunities, a better environment in which to live, and the ability to more proactively shape their own destiny , also seem to be important — a sense of ‘doing the right thing’, for country, for the environment, for future generations.

You can hear for yourself the opinions of ordinary people from different communities across the world here.

Hosting a GDF will not be for every community.  But may be of significant interest to some by providing a vehicle for long-term sustainable community development.