Terms of reference

These are the published terms of reference for the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.

The ‘terms of reference’ of an organisation or group describe its aims, structure and how it will work. They outline the objectives of the group, and the roles and responsibilities of those involved.


1) The purpose of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) is to provide independent advice, based on informed scrutiny of the available evidence, to UK Government and Devolved Administration Ministers (hereafter called ‘sponsor Ministers’) on the long-term management of radioactive waste, arising from civil and where relevant defence nuclear programmes, including storage and disposal.

2) CoRWM will provide strategic oversight of radioactive waste management in the UK, in such a way that does not duplicate the role already fulfilled by the statutory independent safety, security and environmental regulators.


3) The primary objectives of CoRWM are:

a) provide independent evidence based advice to sponsor Ministers on the Government’s and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) and Radioactive Waste Management Ltd’s (RWM) proposals, plans and programmes to deliver geological disposal (excluding Scotland), together with robust interim storage, for the UK’s higher activity wastes as set out in the work programme agreed annually between CoRWM and sponsor Ministers; and

b) to provide independent, evidence based advice on other radioactive waste management issues as requested by sponsor Ministers, including advice requested by Scottish Government in relation to its policy for higher activity radioactive waste.

In fulfilling its remit to provide independent and evidence based advice, CoRWM is expected to maintain an independent overview of issues relevant to the delivery of government’s radioactive waste management programmes. It should bring to the attention of sponsor Ministers issues that it considers to be either:

  • positive and worthy of note or
  • concerns that, in the Committee’s opinion need to be addressed


4) CoRWM will have a collective responsibility for:

  • recognising the policy framework within which it will operate, including the roles and responsibilities of Government, the NDA, RWM and the various statutory independent regulators in relation to CoRWM’s own advisory role;
  • delivering its evidence-based advice to sponsor Ministers in accordance with agreed work programmes. It will be for sponsor Ministers, with appropriate reference to their respective Parliaments and Assemblies, to take decisions on the evidence based advice they receive and to give directions to the NDA/RWM as necessary on any subsequent changes that they deem to be required in the delivery of radioactive waste management programmes;
  • delivering the work programme within the agreed budget, although the Chair may request sponsor Ministers for an adjustment to this budget should this be considered necessary; and
  • submitting an annual written report to sponsor Ministers, by 30 June of each year. The report will include CoRWM’s progress with the agreed work programme, advice deriving from it and costs incurred. It will be made available in the libraries of the UK and Scottish Parliaments, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

5) The Chair, supported by one or more CoRWM members when appropriate, will generally meet every two months with sponsor officials to report progress on the work programme and to discuss advice being provided at official level.

6) The Chair will meet sponsor Ministers on appointment, and then at least annually along with other members as appropriate. The Chair may also be required to present the position of CoRWM to Parliamentary or Assembly committees and representatives as appropriate.


7) CoRWM’s deliverables will be set out each year in a proposed three-year rolling work programme.

8) The work programme will be submitted to sponsor Ministers by 31 March each year for discussion and agreement. Any in-year changes will be the subject of agreement by CoRWM and sponsor Ministers.

9) The work programme will include details of specific areas of work, reports which the Committee intends to produce, the proposed role of sub-groups and any other activities or events, including proposals for stakeholder engagement.

10) In delivering its annual work programme, and where there is a common interest, the Committee should liaise as appropriate with regulators and any other relevant bodies that advise Government and the regulators.

11) With the agreement of CoRWM’s sponsor Ministers, other parts of Government, the NDA/RWM and the regulators may request independent advice from CoRWM. Relevant Parliamentary / Assembly Committees may also propose work to sponsoring Ministers, for consideration in the work programme. Any additional work would need to be funded by the requesting party.


12) The Committee is jointly appointed by sponsor Ministers and appointments will be made following the Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Office published by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

13) Appointments will usually be for four years and sponsor Ministers retain the right to terminate appointments at any time in light of individual members’ performance, changes in CoRWM’s work requirements, or completion of the work required of CoRWM.

14) CoRWM shall consist of a Chair and up to eleven members, one of whom will be appointed by sponsor Ministers as Deputy Chair on the recommendation of the Chair. Members will not be mandated representatives of organisational or sectoral interests.

15) The skills and expertise which will need to be available to the Committee will vary depending on the programme of work. Sponsor Ministers may review the membership of the Committee, and the skills and expertise required.

16) CoRWM is set up by, and answerable to sponsor Ministers and is funded by the taxpayer. It must therefore comply with the Cabinet Office guide for Departments https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-bodies-information-and-guidance

17) These and other relevant procedural requirements will be set out in CoRWM’s Code of Practice which members will agree to, prior to appointment.


18) Members of CoRWM itself may not have all the skills and expertise necessary to advise Government. The Committee will need to decide how best to secure access to other appropriate sources of expert input during the course of its work. It will have the option of setting up expert sub-groups containing both CoRWM members and other appropriate co-opted persons. The engagement of consultants will be dependent on sufficient funds being available to CoRWM and the necessary business cases being approved by sponsors as appropriate and, if required, Cabinet Office.

19) A member of CoRWM will chair any sub-group of this nature and ensure its effective operation, as well as provide a clear line of responsibility and accountability to the main Committee. It will be for the main Committee to assess and decide upon the advice it receives from such sub-groups. CoRWM may also utilise other appropriate means of securing expert input, such as sponsored meetings and seminars. The Chair will ensure that sub-group work and all other activities are closely integrated.

Engagement and transparency

20) CoRWM shall undertake its work in an open and consultative manner in order to secure the confidence of stakeholders in the advice it provides. It will engage with stakeholders and it will publish advice (and the underpinning evidence) in a way that is meaningful to the non-expert. It will comply, as will sponsoring departments, with ‘The Government Chief Scientific Advisor’s guidelines on the Use of Scientific and Engineering Advice in Policy Making ‘, as well as other relevant Government advice and guidelines. Government will respond to all substantive advice. Published advice and reports will be made available in respective Parliaments and Assemblies, as will any Government response.

21) To secure stakeholder confidence in its activities and advice, CoRWM’s work will be characterised by:

  • a published reporting and transparency policy;
  • relevant stakeholder engagement as required;
  • clear communications including the use of plain language, publishing its advice (and the underpinning evidence) in a way that is meaningful to the non-expert;
  • making information accessible through its website;
  • encouraging people to ask questions or make their views known and considering their concerns;
  • providing opportunities for people to challenge information, for example by making clear the sources of information and points of view on which the Committee’s advice is based


22) CoRWM will be subject to Triennial review in accordance with Cabinet Office requirements and under a timetable agreed between DECC and the Cabinet Office.

Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference

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Terms and Conditions

Thes are the terms & conditions for current members of CoRWM

Terms and Conditions

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updated November 2015