A Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) is a site which aims to provide a permanent solution to the legacy of higher-activity waste that has been accumulating in the UK since the 1940’s.
From December 2015 to March 2016, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) ran a second Sciencewise-supported dialogue to explore public views on the siting of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). By exploring not just public opinions but the underlying reasons for them, this dialogue provided the GDF Policy Team with valuable evidence to inform policy-making.
The 2015-16 dialogue took place in the context of a 2014 White Paper ‘Implementing Geological Disposal’ which set out government preferences for siting of a GDF which was heavily informed by a 2013 Sciencewise supported dialogue, Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Siting Process Review which explored how best to engage the public on this issue.
The dialogue involved two workshops with 54 members of the public, selected as representatives of the urban, rural and semi-rural populations around Swindon and Manchester. Participants had no previous experience, positive or negative, of nuclear waste disposal issues and were recruited to include a mix of educational levels, genders, social groups and ethnicities. The dialogue was delivered by 3KQ and evaluated by URSUS Consulting Ltd.
This dialogue provided useful input into the policy process and was identified by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to have informed the guidance paper ‘Implementing Geological Disposal – Working with Communities’ in 2018. This dialogue also had impact by adding to institutional knowledge and experience on delivering effective public dialogue as the Sciencewise support provided was regarded as crucial by policymakers involved.