People have submitted questions to us in advance of our monthly meetings.
Where technical knowledge is required NWS will be supporting us in providing an answer.
Below are the questions asked so far and the answers. Please check these prior to asking your question.
Response provided by Lincolnshire County Council
The post that we have advertised is for the nuclear industry sector as a whole and not just for the Geological Disposal Facility proposal. However, there is a significant amount of work that is required to respond to the Nuclear Waste Services programme, including the consideration of infrastructure proposals, site surveys etc which are the responsibility of the County Council.
This means that the council needs a dedicated officer with the time and knowledge to give to this work and as you are aware, the team have managed to secure full funding from NWS to pay for this post. The allocation of funding is in line with the government’s policy on the siting of geological disposal facilities which makes it clear that any contribution to staffing or other costs is to be done on a completely independent basis and it is similar to Planning Policy Agreements where major developers cover the costs of local authorities’ work on their planning application.
Three points to clarify:
(i) LCC has adopted a neutral position on the GDF, and that position remains,
(ii) this postholder will operate neutrally, and
(iii) this post will enable LCC, as a member of the Community Partnership, to ensure that the partnership provides the local community with all the necessary and relevant information to inform a Test of Public Support should that occur.
At no point has there been any bias towards or against NWS in the council’s work and nor will there be in the future.
In addition, there is a major scheme at West Burton in Nottinghamshire which is just a few miles from the Lincolnshire border, and we need extra capacity in our team to be actively involved in helping businesses and residents to win contracts and get jobs at that scheme; we will also need to be heavily involved in matters like transport assessments, geological analysis, etc.
Additionally, there are significant opportunities for our manufacturing sector, in places like Lincoln, Gainsborough, and Stamford to win contracts in the country’s roll out of the manufacture of small modular nuclear reactors and we have a role in supporting businesses in this regard.
Site evaluation studies are underway, and specific details around accommodating any potential incoming workforce will be considered in detail in due course.
The nuclear industry has been a part of the industrial, medical and military landscape of the UK since the 1950s and whatever people think about that, the legacy has been nuclear waste of varying levels of radioactivity stored at more than 20 surface sites across the country, and with more to add to that through the decommissioning of our remaining nuclear power stations and the possible realisation of the UK Government’s ambitions for new nuclear. Doing nothing about that waste, or just leaving it where it is, is neither a responsible nor realistic option.
On behalf of the UK Government, Nuclear Waste Services is currently evaluating three search areas in different parts of England to see if they are suitable to host a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) to hold the country’s higher activity nuclear waste. Their approach is based on the best scientific advice available and on experience gained through the development of similar facilities elsewhere in the world. Whether or not any one location is chosen will depend on whether it can offer a safe and suitable site and a community willing to host the facility demonstrated through a Test of Public Support.
In this context, the role of the Community Partnership is expressed in its mission statement and is – ‘To champion the interests of our community, local people, the environment, and economy by independently encouraging the fullest participation in any decision to site a GDF in the search area throughout the process’.
Response provided by NWS Safety Case Team
Some of the waste for disposal in a GDF will be radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years, which is beyond the time we can rely solely on the integrity of the waste containers.
The geological disposal system will be designed to limit migration of any contaminants, even after any waste containers have degraded, to a sufficient extent to prevent harm to the environment, including the marine ecosystem.
Response provided by NWS Safety Case Team
A GDF does not yet exist in the UK and therefore a direct test of a GDF has not yet happened. However, there have been decades of research and development, both within the UK and internationally, into geological disposal of radioactive waste.
This underpins the current basis for disposal and will continue as the GDF design develops and matures and continues further through GDF construction and operations to ensure that current knowledge and technology is utilised to maximum benefit.
Due to the timescales involved in geological disposal, it is not possible to run a full timescale test, but accelerated testing and use of natural analogues are examples of evidence that are used to underpin any safety claims and arguments.
There is no evidence to suggest that people will suffer financial loss as a result of having a GDF sited within this area. Indeed, evidence suggests that through investment and job creation, communities with nuclear facilities generally benefit financially with higher average local wages, a growth in property values and a strong local economy. Notwithstanding this and, as with all national infrastructure projects, legislation provides for schemes to compensate individuals where any financial loss can be proved.
There is no evidence to suggest that Mablethorpe as a seaside resort will be negatively affected should a GDF be developed in the area. However, the Community Partnership will survey the views of visitors and those involved in running the tourist industry over the coming months and will publish the results to help local people come to a view on this matter.
Experience elsewhere suggests that nuclear facilities can benefit rather than damage local tourism. For example, there is no evidence that the Sellafield nuclear facility has impacted on tourism in Cumbria and indeed while open, the Sellafield Visitor Centre was for many years the most popular visitor attraction in the county. Similarly, the Nuclear Power Station Visitor Centre in Dungeness, also proved popular with visitors to the area and the same could prove to be the case if a GDF and visitor centre were built near Mablethorpe.
There is currently one member of the Community Partnership living in Theddlethorpe. The criteria for membership are for members to have lived or worked in the Search Area for at least 12 months.
The Search Area is the area in which the GDF process is taking place and is made up of two electoral wards: Withern and Theddlethorpe, and Mablethorpe. The Partnership are looking to fill a business position vacancy and co-opted positions.
The interim chair and three members of the Partnership visited France in November 2023. They were accompanied by NWS staff to explore the French facilities and engage with representatives from the community and Andra, the developer in France.
Information from this visit will be shared on the CP website in the future.
Response provided by NWS Waste Management Team
There are many similarities in the UK and France’s approach to nuclear waste disposal. The geological setting of the Cigeo facility and Theddlethorpe has several important similarities, such as the clay sediments of similar age and depth, that is of particular significance to the safety of nuclear waste disposal.
The Ancholme Group (Lower Strength Sedimentary Rock) in the Theddlethorpe Search Area, is very similar in age and character to the Callovian-Oxfordian mudstone at Ciego.
The French programme is 20 years ahead of the UK with a site identified and an associated underground research laboratory.
We can learn significantly from the French experience in their Bure underground research laboratory as we move forward with our work here in the UK and have a close working relationship with our French counterparts.
There are some differences in the approach. The inventory of waste for the French GDF (‘Cigéo’) is less complex and of less volume than the UK GDF. This is due to the fact it does not include the full inventory from future decommissioning activities and planned French new build for the nuclear sector.
More information from the Partnership visit and the French and UK GDF programmes is planned to be shared on the CP website in future. In the meantime, you can view the Andra website:
The survey was conducted in November 2021 and the results published in March 2022. This was during the Working Group stage and prior to the forming of the Community Partnership. The results of the survey have not been shared with the Partnership officially, however individual members may be aware of this survey.
This local survey and other types of research and surveys that have been or are planned to be carried out in future will all be considered as part of the Partnership’s role to monitor public opinion.
Item 6.30 Monitor public opinion in relation to siting a GDF within the Search Area and the Potential Host Community.
Implementing Geological Disposal – Working with Communities Policy
There are four female members on the Partnership. They represent NWS and the three sectors of the Partnership: with a community and voluntary group member, a town councillor, and a businesswoman.
Membership of the Partnership does not fully reflect the demographics of the Search Area. The community is predominately white British, with an even split of gender. Most of the population are of working age (18 – 64) and there is a large percentage of retired people.
Two thirds of the Partnership are currently male and overall membership represents the older section of the local population. We do recognise the need to have both younger people and more females within the membership and are striving to address this. Those who represent these specific groups in the community have been encouraged to apply as part of the recent co-opted member recruitment.
People can join the Partnership and cover one of three sectors of the community.
The Test of Public Support (ToPS) will be carried out within the Potential Host Community and will allow the people affected by a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) to decide on whether they wish to host a GDF.
The relevant Principal Local Authorities on the Community Partnership will make the decision on when the ToPS will be carried out.
The Test of Public Support will be taken after extensive community engagement and once the community has had time to ask questions, raise any concerns and learn about a Geological Disposal Facility.
The Community Partnership will decide what method will be used for taking that test. This process is covered in the Implementing Geological Disposal – Working with Communities Policy, and suggests that a local referendum, a formal consultation, or statistically representative polling” could be used.
If there is a negative result following the test, NWS will not be able to seek the regulatory approval and development consent for a GDF and the siting process will end in the community.
Response provided by NWS Environmental Assessment Team
Aerial marine surveys are currently being undertaken off the coast of East Lindsey to provide early baseline understanding of bird and marine mammal populations.
Other than the aerial marine surveys there are no further environmental baseline surveys currently being undertaken and no prior surveys to date.
A full suite of baseline environmental surveys will be undertaken as part of any Environmental Impact Assessment which will be submitted with any planning application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) for site characterisation activities.
The data collected as part of these surveys will be reported within the Environmental Statement. Aspects of the data will be made available to the public during the DCO consultation stages and be included within the Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR).
The exact surveys to be undertaken will be formally scoped and will depend on the sensitives of each site but will include additional habitats and species surveys as a minimum.