Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) is a public body and a subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It has been established as the delivery body responsible for a safe, sustainable and publicly acceptable programme for the geological disposal of the UK’s higher activity radioactive waste.
In December 2018 the UK Government published a policy which laid out the commitment to a community consent-based process to find a suitable location for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) . A Geological Disposal Facility is designed to dispose of the UKs radioactive waste safely and securely – specifically ‘higher-activity’ waste (the most radioactive kind).
It involves building a series of specially designed and engineered vaults and tunnels deep underground. It could potentially be three times deeper than the height of the Shard in London, Britain’s tallest building.
Once the waste is placed inside a GDF, the facility will eventually be permanently sealed. The way the facility is designed and engineered means it can be sealed to protect people and the environment for hundreds of thousands of years, without needing any maintenance, while the radioactivity fades away naturally.
The process of finding a site will take between 15 to 20 years. Construction can only start following a positive Test of Public Support and after the relevant permissions from the regulators and planning authorities have been obtained. This process is community consent-based and communities will be able to work in partnership with NWS from the beginning.
A GDF will be a multi-billion pound infrastructure investment and is likely to have a positive effect on a local economy. It is estimated that a GDF will provide jobs and benefits to the economy for more than 150 years.
However, these benefits will not materialise for a number of years. The Government is therefore making available Community Investment Funding to those communities that form Community Partnerships. In the early parts of the process up to £1million per year will be available to communities. This will rise to £2.5m later in the process.
Four Community Partnerships have been formed and are taking place in in the siting process. These are in East Lindsey district in Lincolnshire, Allerdale district in Cumbria and two in Copeland district in Cumbria. For more information see https://www.workinginpartnership.org.uk/
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