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Ministers decline to endorse deep storage

25/06/2007

The Scottish government today declined to endorse plans to consult on proposals to bury nuclear waste in deep geological facilities in Scotland.

Speaking as the UK government launched a public consultation on plans for the geological disposal of radioactive waste, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead said:

"We recognise that dealing with the legacy of radioactive waste from past nuclear activities is one of the most significant challenges we face.

"The Scottish government does not accept that geological disposal is the right way forward.

"This is a matter of principle for us and I have no doubt that public opinion in Scotland supports our view.

"We do, however, continue to support the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) recommendations for a robust programme of interim storage and would also support further joint research on other long-term management options.

"We do not accept that it is right to seek to bury nuclear waste, which will remain active for thousands of years, in a deep geological facility or to expect any community to host such a facility. This out of sight out of mind policy should not extend to Scotland.

"We do very much wish to continue working closely with the UK government and other devolved administrations in other areas of radioactive waste policy and on issues relating to the management of the UK's nuclear legacy where we share agreed objectives."

Background:

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.

This has been taken forward today by the UK government and the other devolved administrations who have published a public consultation on the government's framework on the implementation process for geological disposal of radioactive waste.

The Scottish government has decided not to be involved in the consultation paper or any further work on progressing geological disposal as they do not accept that geological disposal is the right way forward for Scotland. The 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 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.