LONDON: The UK government has launched a public consultation today to help it decide where to develop a new radioactive waste storage site, offering communities up to £1m a year to host the facility.
A so-called geological disposal facility would involve placing radioactive waste created by Britain’s nuclear plants at least 200 meters underground in a specially engineered facility.
About a fifth of the UK’s electricity is generated by nuclear plants, but the waste created has to be stored for thousands of years, and currently only temporary storage facilities are used.
A new facility is needed to safely dispose of the waste that will be created by the new generation of nuclear power stations which are currently being developed, including Hinkley Point C.
The government said the facility will create up to 2,000 skilled jobs and bring at least £8bn to the economy over its lifetime, but energy minister Richard Harrington said planning consent would only be given to sites that secure local support.
“We owe it to future generations to take action now to find a suitable permanent site for the safe disposal of our radioactive waste. And it is right that local communities have a say,” Harrington said.
According to the consultation plans, communities could receive up to £1m per year in funding during initial land testing if they agree to host the waste site. The figure could rise to £2.5m a year for those that allow boreholes to test whether their community’s land is suitable.
A previous attempt to find a host for the project failed when Cumbria county council rejected plans in 2013.
Consultations in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will run for 12 weeks.