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"Two-thirds" of policy on radioactive waste disposal changed as a result of public dialogue

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In 2013-14, DECC ran a public and stakeholder dialogue as part of the review of the site selection process for the geological disposal of higher activity radioactive waste. The dialogue results fed into policy development, especially the White Paper Implementing Geological Disposal, which was published by DECC in July 2014.

Follow up research by Sciencewise in 2015, examining how public input fits into the policy making process, found that one DECC policy maker reported that "We actually changed 2/3 of our policy and the White Paper based on what we heard" in the dialogue.

The evaluation report of the process  has already identified that the results informed the White Paper in three specific ways:

•    Content. Dialogue results on continuing conversations with communities, governance and determining community benefits were all explicitly covered in the White Paper.

•    Future engagement. DECC decided to use dialogue within the new site selection process as a result of learning about the value of dialogue in creating constructive engagement. Some NGO participants in the dialogue re-thought their engagement with Government, towards a more collaborative and constructive working relationship.   

•    Style of the White Paper.  DECC's new confidence in talking to the public resulted in the White Paper being produced to be easily understandable and accessible to lay people in terms of language, layout and illustration.

The evaluation report is available on the Sciencewise website at

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