Draft National Policy statement for Geological Disposal Infrastructure Contents

5Industrial Strategy

Benefits to the hosting community

45.The need for the GDI to provide clear and substantial benefits to the host community and for the Government to work with the host community to ensure that an integrated approach to investment and employment is taken was mentioned many times in the evidence we received.95 This is because “the overall balance of effects must be significantly positive”96 for any future host community. Pupils 2 Parliament recommended “going beyond identifying likely impacts on local communities and population” and that “increasing local employment be a principle in its own right” that would guide the developer’s application and the Secretary of State’s decision.97

Link with the Industrial Strategy

46.The link between the Industrial Strategy and the NPS is not currently clearly established in the draft NPS. The Industrial Strategy is only mentioned once in the consultation on the draft NPS and is nowhere to be found in the NPS itself. For instance, the NPS does not require Local Industrial Strategies to be drawn once a site for geological disposal has been identified or for the Secretary of State to expressly favour developments that deliver clear socioeconomic benefits to the host community.

47.Nevertheless, the ministerial foreword states that a GDI:

is a responsible public service to our future society and will contribute to the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which identified the key role the nuclear sector has in increasing productivity and driving clean growth.98

When pressed for further details during our oral evidence session, the Minister told us that the Industrial Strategy was “an important part of” the NPS and that “the two are linked together.”99 The Minister argued that the recently-agreed Nuclear Sector Deal,100 was “relevant to geological disposal” in terms of “reduction in cost, skills, women, et cetera.”.101 The Minister claimed that the GDI would fit within the Industrial Strategy’s Places policy but did not explain how.102 When we tried to establish whether the Government would tie in the NPS with Local Industrial Strategies and local skills plans, the Minister’s response was non-committal.103

48.Given the timelines at stake, it is likely that by the time the siting process is completed (15 to 20 years from now according to the Government’s estimate),104 the Industrial Strategy may no longer be a Government policy and the Government itself will have changed. For this reason, it is acceptable for the NPS not to contain any specific mention of the Industrial Strategy. However, the Government should refrain from drawing connections between the Industrial Strategy and geological disposal in order to justify its policy choices. If it wants to maintain the link between the two policies, the Government should justify in detail how geological disposal will be integrated within the Industrial Strategy framework.

Benefits currently outlined in the NPS

49.The conclusion we draw about the link between the Industrial Strategy and geological disposal does not negate the need for the NPS to establish strong benefits to the potential host communities. Although we acknowledge that RWM estimate that the GDI could bring “up to 1,000 [highly skilled] jobs for about 100 years”105 to the host community, some submissions argued that the NPS’s Impacts lacked details on:

the transport infrastructure requirements; skills and training requirements to ensure the local workforce can access new jobs and also to address labour migration from existing services/industries; management of waste generated by the development.106

50.We were told by RWM that the Government was planning on making payments of £1million a year to communities that enter the siting process; giving £2.5 million a year for communities that go as far as having boreholes drilled; and that the one community that ends up hosting a GDF would get a “significant additional investment”.107 We strongly support these plans but we regret that the NPS does not provide the same level of guarantee that host communities will receive tangible skills and employment opportunities from geological disposal. In this respect, the NPS does say that the developer “should look” to maximise employment opportunities and sourcing of materials locally but no firm obligation is placed on the developer to deliver these provisions to be granted development consent.108

51.NuLeaf suggested ways to make the link between the NPS and the Industrial Strategy more compelling so as to deliver more benefits to prospective host communities:

The GDF has the potential to bring a significant number of direct operational jobs (around 550 on average) to an area. More importantly, there is scope for the GDF to support local skills development and supply chains and, through the significant investment promised to the community that hosts a GDF, to develop local infrastructure to wider benefit. The Industrial Strategy does recognise that, through Science and Innovation Audits and the Knowledge Exchange Framework, collaboration on research occurs across the UK and internationally. The GDF could therefore support and enhance local and regional economic growth if such opportunities are part of the project. To improve the social and economic benefits, the developer should be encouraged to work with local authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership to establish the right strategy for the area if a GDF were consented.

52.Beyond making payments to prospective communities and incentivising the developer to rely on local skills, it is hard to see how the NPS would expressly guarantee a development consent order that has robust socioeconomic benefits for the host community. It is also disappointing that the Government plans do not make local growth and skills a priority for the GDI if it is not one of the decisive factors of the development consent order.

53.The Government must clarify in the NPS how the Secretary of State will have regard to local skills and employment opportunities when considering development consent orders for geological disposal. The Government should also place stronger requirements on the developer in the Impacts section of the NPS to establish robust local skills partnerships with the host community and to rely on local employment and sourcing opportunities.

95 Copeland Borough Council, GDI0008, para 3.18; Folkestone & Hythe District Council, GDI0007, para 6; GDI0005, para 24

96 Folkestone & Hythe District Council, GDI0007, para 6

97 GDI0006, para 32

98 Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, National Policy Statement for geological disposal infrastructure: implementing geological disposal - a consultation, 25 January 2018, p 2

99 Q135 [Richard Harrington MP]

100 Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Policy paper - Nuclear Sector Deal, A Sector Deal between government and the nuclear industry, 27 June 2018

101 Q135 [Richard Harrington MP]

102 Q138 [Richard Harrington MP]

103 Q139–140 [Richard Harrington MP]

104 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Consultation: Working With Communities - Implementing Geological Disposal, 25 January 2018, para 3.28

105 Q57 [Bruce McKirdy]

106 Cumbria County Council, GDI0011; NuLeaf and Copeland Borough Council made similar arguments.

107 Q73 [Bruce McKirdy]

108 NPS, para 5.7.2

Published: 31 July 2018