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Written Statement - Managing radioactive waste safely: a review of Welsh Government policy on the disposal of higher activity radioactive waste

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Give us your views on proposals for a new policy on managing and disposing of higher activity radioactive waste.
Carl Sargeant, Minister for Natural Resources

Assembly Members may recall the then Minister for Natural Resources and Food issuing a call for evidence on 29 April this year seeking responses about whether the Welsh Government should review its current policy on the disposal of higher activity radioactive waste.  

Current Welsh Government policy is neither to support nor to oppose the United Kingdom Government policy of geological disposal for HAW.  Nor does the Welsh Government currently support any other disposal option for HAW.  

The call for evidence ended on 24 June and the Welsh Government has carefully considered the responses we received and other evidence available.  The call for evidence stated that should the Welsh Government decide to review its current policy it would do so in an open and transparent way including public consultation.  

Having carefully considered the responses to the call for evidence and other evidence available I have decided that the Welsh Government should review its current policy on higher activity radioactive waste disposal.  In keeping with the statement in the call for evidence I have today issued a further consultation paper which is attached to this statement.  

The consultation paper sets down in detail the considerations, constraints and options available to the Welsh Government in deciding to review its current policy.  No final decisions have been taken about this policy review.  However, even if the Welsh Government were to decide to adopt a policy for the disposal of higher activity radioactive waste this would not necessarily mean that this waste would be disposed of in Wales.  

The Welsh Government strongly supports the voluntarist approach whereby a potential host community would seek to open discussions about hosting a disposal facility.  These discussions could last more than a decade during which a potential host community is able to withdraw at any time.  Since 2008 it has been possible for a community in Wales to seek to open such discussions with the Welsh Government under current Welsh Government policy.  

Depending on the outcome to this consultation, I will consider the next steps.  This review of our current policy will be carried out in an open and transparent way and if appropriate we will consult further on any proposals for change.