Radioactive waste policy statement

Policy statement on radioactive waste in Scotland, issued by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment on 25 June 2007.

Question lodged by Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands, SNP) on June 22, 2007:

To ask the Scottish Executive, in light of today's publication of the consultation paper, Managing Radioactive Waste Safely - A framework for implementing geological disposal, by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, what Scotland's policy is on the long-term management of nuclear waste.

Answered by Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, on Monday, June 25, 2007:

The Scottish Government has explained to the UK Government that it does not endorse the consultation document published today.

In July 2006 The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) recommended geological disposal as the best available approach for the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste. As it would take a number of decades to develop a geological disposal facility CoRWM also recommended a robust programme of interim storage until a facility was available or in case a suitable site could not be found.

Its recommendations on geological disposal and storage were accepted by the previous Scottish Administration, UK government and the other devolved administrations in October 2006 and it was agreed there would be public consultation on the government's framework on the implementation process, which has been published today.

We are committed to dealing responsibly with Scottish Nuclear Waste in Scotland and continue to support the CoRWM recommendations for a robust programme of interim storage and would also support further joint research on other long-term management options. However, we do not accept that it is right to seek to bury nuclear waste, which will remain radioactive for thousands of years, in underground sites. This out of sight, out of mind policy should not extend to Scotland.

Our policy for waste in Scotland is to support long-term 'near surface, near site' storage facilities so that the waste is monitorable and retrievable and the need for transporting it over long distances is minimal. We will be progressing this in conjunction with the regulators and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

We will continue to work closely with UK Government and Devolved Administrations in other areas of radioactive waste policy where we share agreed objectives, including remaining active participants of UK-wide policy forums and networks. We intend to remain engaged with the CoRWM process insofar as it deals with recommendations for storage.

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