HAW Implementation Strategy published

Strategy to manage Higher Activity Waste in Scotland.

The Scottish Government have published a strategy governing the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste in Scotland.

The Higher Activity Waste (HAW) Implementation Strategy fulfils a commitment made in Scotland’s Higher Activity Radioactive Waste Policy, in 2011.

The strategy does not deviate from previous Scottish Government policy. It also does not set out to identify new sites, with long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste continuing to take place in near-surface facilities. A process for developing a full siting strategy is expected to begin after 2030, with construction expected to begin on disposal facilities post-2070.

Publication follows an extensive public consultation and work with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), site stakeholder groups and the Scottish Councils Committee on Radioactive Substances (SCCORS). The strategy will help improve work already underway to manage radioactive waste in Scotland.

Key features of the strategy include an illustrative long-term timeline and a new research statement. The research statement commits the Scottish Government and delivery partners to review international concepts and emerging technologies, whilst making best use of the radioactive waste knowledge sharing R&D networks.  As part of this work, we will seek advice from our Chief Scientific Adviser and the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.

The strategy also commits the Scottish Government to working closely with business development partners and Skills Development Scotland to help review and enhance Scotland’s decommissioning capabilities.

Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, said:

“This takes forward a commitment we made to develop a strategy to manage the radioactive waste legacy that we inherited from previous generations in a responsible and sustainable way.

“This strategy, which comes after a public consultation, enhances and reinforces the work already underway to manage radioactive waste in Scotland. It sets out priority areas of work required for managing radioactive waste in sites such as Dounreay, which is regarded among the most complex decommissioning sites in Europe, to reduce the economic and environmental burdens for future generations.

“There are also opportunities to transfer skills and experience from existing energy sectors, such as oil and gas and renewables, to oversee Scotland’s decommissioning process. We will work closely with our development agencies, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Development International, along with the NDA, to make sure we’re developing the necessary skills to exploit the economic opportunities presented by the domestic decommissioning market.”

Notes to editors:


The Policy and Strategy include higher activity radioactive waste arising in Scotland from:

  • The operation or decommissioning of the 5 civil nuclear industry sites in Scotland;
  • The operation or decommissioning of that part of Rosyth Dockyard which is currently operated as a civil nuclear site (excluding submarine dismantling);
  • Non-nuclear industry sectors, including health, education and oil and gas.

The Policy and Strategy do not include:

  • Radioactive waste arising at defence establishments not subject to the Radioactive Substances Act 1993.   This includes waste arising at Faslane, Coulport and Vulcan.
  • Higher activity radioactive waste arising from the decommissioning and dismantling of redundant nuclear submarines including those berthed at the former Defence Establishment at Rosyth. The waste from the submarines will stored pending disposal in a future deep Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).
  • Radioactive substances and material which are not currently classified as radioactive waste, such as spent fuel, plutonium, uranium or other such radioactive fuels and materials. These materials are considered a reserved issue and managed by the UK Government. They will be transported to Sellafield for storage pending disposal in a future GDF.


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