The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) publishes today the results of a survey of NGOs, councillors and council officers who attend nuclear site stakeholder forums around England, Scotland and Wales. It also outlines its wider concerns and issues with the state of nuclear policy stakeholder engagement in the UK and Republic of Ireland. (1)
The survey contacted NGO and NFLA respondents of groups who attend both civil nuclear ‘Site Stakeholder Groups’ (SSGs) and defence nuclear ‘Local Liaison Committees’ (LLCs). The NFLA report also considers wider stakeholder engagement at the national level in the nuclear sector, giving four examples of good practice in the UK and Republic of Ireland in comparison with the inadequate level of scrutiny and discussion it sees in many existing nuclear stakeholder forums. The report encourages a fuller consideration and review of how nuclear stakeholder engagement takes place in the likes of Sweden and Finland, which is not just more exhaustive and ‘trust-building’ but also sees the government funding nominated independent groups to allow for a more rounded and complete view of radioactive waste policy.
The NFLA report calls on the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), Magnox sites, EDF Energy and the Ministry of Defence to review stakeholder forums both at the local site and national consultative level. A lack of detailed scrutiny and positive engagement to deliver practical change and improvement in the industry and the wider nuclear sector is evident. The UK Government, devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and regulatory agencies also have a clear role to play in improving these policy processes.
Specific recommendations NFLA take out of this survey, and in its wider experience of stakeholder engagement, include:
- There needs to be greater consistency in the operation of NDA SSGs, EDF LCLCs and also on nuclear legacy and nuclear new build discussions with overall decision-making.
- The representation of civil and defence nuclear stakeholder groups should be reviewed by the MOD, the NDA, Magnox sites run by Cavendish Flour and EDF Energy. There needs to be dedicated and consistent websites publishing meeting minutes, a regular schedule of meetings and a consideration of widening the scope of discussion in civil and defence nuclear site stakeholder groups.
- ONR should convene a working group, with balanced membership from industry, local authorities, and NGOs, to prepare a set of good practice guidelines for the operation of SSGs / LLCs / LCLCs.
- The generous funding of the Chair and Vice Chair of stakeholder groups should be reviewed in parallel with paying appropriate expenses for individual members. Considering membership on a wider regional rather than just local basis should be looked at as well.
- A more participative approach to all nuclear stakeholder meetings should be welcomed and encouraged.
- Nuclear regulators should review their role on such groups and reflect on the comments made by survey respondents.
- MOD LLCs and EDF LCLCs should be made fully open to the public to attend and relevant NGOs should be allowed to be members of them. All meetings should be held at times to allow for the public to attend them.
NFLA, like many of the groups contacted in this survey, are becoming increasingly frustrated with poor stakeholder engagement across the nuclear sector. A real sense of ‘lip service’ and ‘box ticking exercises’ predominate and that needs to be improved by all groups organising stakeholder meetings in the nuclear sector. The polarisation of the new nuclear debate is a clear factor in the decline of nuclear policy stakeholder engagement and an increasing lack of trust. However, it is simply not good enough to ignore the views of those with real concerns about nuclear power, as in the end this often leads to deficient and overly-expensive decisions being made by those organising such stakeholder events.
NFLA is sending this report to all agencies involved in nuclear policy stakeholder engagement and all the groups and bodies who have a stake in improving nuclear policy in general.
NFLA Steering Committee Chair and Welsh Forum Co-Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
This detailed and well researched report outlines and uncovers a large level of frustration in the operation of stakeholder engagement at both the local site level and at the national consultative level. In my view this is leading to poor policy processes and often inadequate policy decisions. I call on all the agencies responsible for nuclear stakeholder engagement to read this report in the spirit it is written – to improve policy and to engender a greater sense of trust and acknowledgement. NFLA believe it is imperative to improve nuclear policy stakeholder engagement and sees this report as one way to try and shift the mind sets of the agencies it engages with.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) The NFLA Policy Briefing on stakeholder engagement is attached with this media release and can be found on the home page of the NFLA website at https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/A269_NB156_SSGs_LLCs_and_stakeholder_-policy.pdf