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Disposal of Radioactive Waste dialogue project influences the development of the 2014 White Paper 'Implementing Geological Disposal', and future DECC engagement priorities

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The evaluation of the public dialogue run by DECC was published in January 2015 and identified that the dialogue influenced the 2014 White Paper Implementing Geological Disposal - A framework for long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste in three ways:

1.    The content of the White Paper. The evaluation compared the findings from the dialogue with the contents of the White Paper and found ten separate links, including affirmation of the principle of voluntarism, affirmation of the test of community support and right of withdrawal, the need for transparent and open process, and a desire for efficiency and fairness.

The choice in the White Paper to take a period in which to prepare to work with communities, and that the development of a new siting process would be an 'ongoing conversation between Government and citizens' was a direct result of DECC involvement in the dialogue workshops. The establishment of a Community Representation Working Group was also a new idea. As a result, the approach to decision making in the  White Paper was seen to be fundamentally changed from that described in the formal consultation document.

2.   The style of the White Paper. The experience of doing the workshops and the feedback emerging from them encouraged DECC to feel they could and should produce a White Paper that was easily understandable by lay people, and that was more accessible (with info-graphics as well as text), and that was capable of standing along without reference to scientific reference texts.

3.   Future consultation and engagement through dialogue. As a result of the success of the dialogue project, DECC intended to use the same type of dialogue process within the GDF siting process in future. Participation in the dialogue had given DECC the confidence to work in this way, and a belief that engagement of this type had a value in informing future policy development.

In addition, the dialogue affected the willingness of DECC to engage more positively in future. Their previous experience had been challenging and conflictual; the attitude was not more optimistic and outward looking. This was seen to be highly significant in the context of the White Paper and commitment to voluntarism.

See related project page: Review of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) Siting process