Radioactivity

Environmental Policy Division (EPD) is responsible for devolved policy and legislation in relation to radioactivity in Northern Ireland. EPD co-operates with UK Government Departments in relation to policy on the management of radioactive waste, and is represented on several UK-wide radioactivity policy groups.

Working with Communities: Implementing Geological Disposal

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) jointly launched a consultation on 25 January 2018 entitled Working with Communities: Implementing Geological Disposal. The purpose of this consultation, led by BEIS, is to seek views on the Government’s proposed process for engaging with communities who may be interested in hosting a geological disposal facility (GDF) for existing high activity radioactive waste and waste from new nuclear power stations.

It is not a consultation on whether or not there should be a GDF in Northern Ireland.

The proposals build on commitments set out in the 2014 White Paper entitled Implementing Geological Disposal. BEIS and DAERA remain committed to an approach based on the willingness of communities to participate. The consultation proposals outline how communities may be represented, how investment funding could be provided to communities that participate in the siting process, how a right of withdrawal could operate throughout the process and how a test of public support could be carried out before construction and operation of a geological disposal facility.

Specific questions for respondents to consider are included throughout the document, and are listed together in Chapter 6.

Once this consultation has closed, the UK Government will consider, and publish a summary of the consultation responses on the GOV.UK website. A policy paper will then be written and laid in Parliament. The delivery body, Radioactive Waste Management, will produce more detailed guidance on how the siting process will work in practice.

A copy of the consultation document can be downloaded from the following webpage:

The consultation will close on 19th April 2018

Responses to the consultation may be sent to:

Responses may also be submitted electronically via the e-consultation available at:

Hard copy responses may be sent to the following postal address:

Geological Disposal Facility Team
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
3rd Floor, 1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET
Tel: 020 7215 5000

In Northern Ireland, under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, all government policy is required to have due regard for the need to ensure equality. In addition, all new policies must undergo a Rural Proofing Impact Assessment. Accordingly, screening exercises will be carried out prior to adopting any new policy as a result of this consultation.

Questions and answers

Why are we doing this?

In 2014 the Government published a White Paper on “Implementing Geological Disposal”. At that time, the government recognised that in order for a geological disposal facility (GDF) to be sited at any given location, it is important to engage and work in partnership with the local community. This consultation is on the Government’s proposed process for doing just that – engaging with communities that may be interested in hosting a GDF. It is not a consultation on whether there should or should not be a GDF for nuclear waste in Northern Ireland.

Is this consultation about whether or not Northern Ireland should have a geological disposal facility?

No. As stated above, this consultation is only about the community engagement aspect of the siting process. It will be for communities in Northern Ireland to decide whether to take part in the process at a later stage.

Does Northern Ireland produce higher activity radioactive waste?

No.

If Northern Ireland doesn’t produce higher activity radioactive waste, why are Northern Ireland people being consulted about this?

The purpose of this consultation is to allow citizens of Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, to have their say on this issue. This is not a consultation on whether or not there should be a GDF in Northern Ireland.

Even if a community proposal won public support, who would make the final decision on whether there should be a GDF in Northern Ireland?

This would be a decision for the Northern Ireland Executive as a whole, taking into account planning and environmental considerations.

Strategy for the management of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) waste in the United Kingdom

This Strategy has been published jointly by DECC, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment.

It sets out our joint proposals for a strategy for Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) waste in the UK.

Our joint policy is to facilitate the sustainable and efficient management of Low Level Radioactive Waste in line with the ‘waste hierarchy’ principle. This requires a policy framework which enables and encourages waste producers to avoid the production of unnecessary waste, and to manage arisings in the most environmentally appropriate way.

Our strategy for achieving this in respect of the NORM sector is based on stimulating investment in the waste management supply chain. It will do this principally through:

  • reforming the regulatory framework to ensure it is clear, coherent and effective
  • removing policy barriers to the development of a robust and efficient market for NORM waste management
  • supporting efforts by waste producers and the waste management supply chain to generate better data and information about current and future NORM waste arisings

This strategy was subject to a public consultation exercise from 13 February – 8 May 2014 and has been updated after consideration of consultation responses.  A consultation response will be published shortly after this strategy by Scottish Government.

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) has been undertaken by the Scottish Government’s Environmental Assessment Team in accordance with the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 .

The SEA reflects the strategic ambitions of the Strategy, and was undertaken in parallel with the Consultation. A post adoption report will be published shortly after this strategy by Scottish Government.  

Scottish Government has led on the development of this strategy and it is available from their website using the link below, along with supplementary reports on NORM legislation, the data collection exercise and a summary of consultation responses.

Should you require further information, please contact:

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