LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs – Nigel Robson, head of energy at law firm Eversheds, comments on Environment Secretary David Miliband’s plans for the disposal of radioactive waste.
“The Government has a difficult path to tread. It must sort out the problems of legacy nuclear waste and, as those in the industry have known for some time, the only real answer is for it to be buried. The need for decisions arises both from the requirement to progress de-commissioning, but also to allow the ‘new build’ debate to move forward.
“However, the Government has been reluctant to inflame opposition to nuclear power by selecting or imposing sites for repositories. This is particularly sensitive at a time when the debate on nuclear new build and the associated planning and licensing processes are about to get underway within the next few months. The Government has stated that anyone bidding to build a new nuclear power station must include the cost of de-commissioning and disposal of the associated nuclear waste. Without decisions on disposal there is no way that the market can cost out a new nuclear power station. The suggested solution where local councils volunteer to accept a repository within their area is a novel and perhaps surprising approach.
“That said, there are a number of benefits which will flow to those councils who opt for a repository. It would provide a major source of quality long term local employment as well as tax and revenue benefits. No doubt the Government has drawn upon similar schemes across Europe, and the rest of the world, where municipal authorities have been willing to embrace potentially controversial schemes largely due to the investment and economic benefits brought to their municipality.
“It will remain to be seen whether the Government’s strategy will produce the result it needs.”
Eversheds law firm has a specialist team of experts focusing on the nuclear energy sector.