Radioactive Waste Management: a further update - Science and Technology Committee Contents

CHAPTER 4: List of Conclusions and recommendations

CoRWM and the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely programme


49.  Whilst we welcome the Government's positive response to many of the recommendations in CoRWM's reports on geological disposal and interim storage, it is important that effective action is taken to ensure that these recommendations are taken forward. We urge the Government to do so (paragraph 13). (Recommendation 1)

50.  We welcome the Government's assurance that they regard research and development as important, and that it should be appropriately funded. We look forward to such assurance being reflected in the Government's response to CoRWM's report on research and development (paragraph 14). (Recommendation 2)

51.  We believe that CoRWM's monitoring activity should be put on a more formal basis, so that stakeholders and the public can see clearly whether the Government is putting CoRWM's advice into practice. We therefore recommend that the Government should publish an annual report setting out what action has been taken towards meeting CoRWM's recommendations, so as to enable CoRWM effectively to monitor the Government's progress in implementing its recommendations (paragraph 15). (Recommendation 3)


52.  We believe it is essential that the MRWS programme continues to progress as rapidly as possible (paragraph 16). (Recommendation 4)

53.  We are concerned that the Government and CoRWM are failing to convey any sense of urgency to move the programme forward with all possible speed (paragraph 17). (Recommendation 5)

54.  We urge the Government to consider ways of speeding up the MRWS programme as plans for a geological disposal facility become more defined, and as scientific and technical improvements provide ways of increasing the rate of progress (paragraph 18). (Recommendation 6)

55.  We believe that CoRWM could help drive forward the MRWS programme more rapidly by scrutinising, and if necessary reporting on, the Government's progress (paragraph 19). (Recommendation 7)

56.  We recommend that the Government publish clear policy milestones for all aspects of the MRWS programme, including for issues such as interim storage and the disposal of waste generated by new nuclear power stations. We recommend further that the Government should assist CoRWM in its scrutiny of the Government's progress with regard to the MRWS programme by including in the annual report (see recommendation 3) a statement of the extent to which these milestones have been achieved (paragraph 20). (Recommendation 8)


57.  We believe that an annual report to CoRWM (as detailed in recommendations 3 and 8) setting out the Government's progress towards meeting both CoRWM's recommendations and the Government's own policy milestones would improve the transparency of the MRWS programme. We believe also that this would help maintain public trust and confidence in the MRWS programme by strengthening CoRWM's scrutiny role (paragraph 23). (Recommendation 9)


58.  We believe that CoRWM should provide independent advice to Government on any draft (as well as established) policies that have implications for the management of radioactive waste (paragraph 30). (Recommendation 10)

59.  We are concerned that CoRWM was not asked formally by the Government to comment on the draft National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation, despite the significance of the claims it contains about the future management of radioactive waste. Although we welcome CoRWM's decision to respond to the public consultation on the National Policy Statement anyway, we are concerned that it will not in these circumstances be providing advice based on its usual comprehensive consultation and evidence-gathering processes (paragraph 31). (Recommendation 11)

60.  We recommend therefore that, in future, the Government should ensure that CoRWM is able to respond to Government consultations on policies with an impact on the MRWS programme with formal reports based on its usual rigorous approach (paragraph 32). (Recommendation 12)

CoRWM's working practices


61.  We commend CoRWM's rigorous approach to evidence gathering and stakeholder engagement in its published reports to date (paragraph 33). (Recommendation 13)

62.  We believe that the same high standard which is applied in developing CoRWM's formal advice to Government should apply to all documents published by CoRWM. While we commend CoRWM's commitment to transparency, extreme caution should be taken to ensure that its working papers are not published until it is satisfied they are accurate and evidence-based (paragraph 36). (Recommendation 14)


63.  We believe that, at present, the membership of CoRWM includes an appropriate range of geoscience expertise to enable it to scrutinise effectively the current stage of the MRWS programme. However, we take the view that CoRWM would benefit from more members with experience of business and practical on-site operations and engineering on the main Committee, and we recommend that the Government and CoRWM arrange for this additional expertise to be recruited at an early stage. More generally, we welcome the Government's commitment to keep the Committee's skill set under review as the MRWS programme progresses (paragraph 40). (Recommendation 15)


64.  We recommend that CoRWM ensures its future work programmes are focused on specific issues relevant to the current stage of the MRWS programme (paragraph 43). (Recommendation 16)

65.  We recommend that CoRWM should be free to set its work programme and that it should not be subject to the agreement of sponsoring ministers, although ministers should continue to be able to request advice from CoRWM on specific topics as necessary (paragraph 44). (Recommendation 17)

66.  We feel it is appropriate for CoRWM to keep a watching brief on technological alternatives to design and engineering solutions within the context of a geological disposal programme, so that it can advise the Government in the event of the evidence base underlying Government policies changing (paragraph 46). (Recommendation 18)


67.  We take the view that CoRWM should primarily concentrate on providing evidence-based comment on technical issues (paragraph 48). (Recommendation 19)

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