Last year’s White Paper, Implementing Geological Disposal, set out several Initial Actions to be completed prior to talking with local communities in 2017. Those discussions will begin the process of identifying a suitable site for a geological disposal facility (GDF) with communities who may be interested in hosting it in their areas.
In the past, public consultation has shown a desire for early consideration of geology as a crucial step in building public understanding of geological disposal. So the government has asked us to carry out a National Geological Screening exercise covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This will bring together existing geological information that is relevant to the environmental safety case for a GDF.
There are two stages:
- identifying those geological attributes which contribute to the safety case, presenting them as screening guidance
- applying the guidance by preparing outputs which will consist of short narratives and maps
We have developed the draft guidance with the help of geological experts and has then been assessed by an Independent Review Panel, established by the Geological Society of London at the request of DECC. The public will be consulted on the resulting draft guidance.
Once consultation feedback has been reviewed, we will issue final guidance. This will then be implemented with the help of the British Geological Survey, who hold much of the available geological data, providing high level and authoritative information for 13 regions of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Screening is not designed to rule areas ‘in’ or ‘out’, nor to identify particular sites for a GDF. Rather, it will assist those communities who may be interested in hosting a GDF in their area when the formal engagement and siting process begins in 2017.
We hope that the NDA estate and the many other organisations involved in the nuclear industry will contribute insights and comments during the consultation. We will tell you more about how to take part later in the year.