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National Geological Screening Independent Review Panel


Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) undertook a consultation on its proposals for assembling and presenting information on the geology of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These proposals form the National Geological Screening Guidance.

The 12 week consultation was an important step to ensuring public involvement in the government and RWM’s programme of work to plan for, build and operate a geological disposal facility (GDF) deep underground, providing a permanent solution for the country’s most radioactive waste. The approach for this will be based on working with communities that are willing to participate in the siting process.

The consultation ran from Tuesday 8 September till Friday 4 December 2015.

The national geological screening guidance is being developed by Radioactive Waste Management Limited (RWM), following a July 2014 White Paper setting out the framework for the siting of a Geological Disposal Facility.  RWM will also be responsible for applying the national geological screening guidance.

The panel will assess whether the guidance is geologically and technically sound; can be applied using existing geological information; and provides a basis for assessing the prospects for developing a long-term safety case in a range of geological settings to accommodate the UK inventory of higher activity waste. Later in the process, the panel will assess whether the guidance has been applied accurately and consistently, and in a manner likely to engender public confidence.

The panel will report to DECC after each phase of its work. It is expected that the initial review of the screening guidance will be completed by June 2015, with the second phase expected to extend into 2016. The panel will operate independently of the Geological Society, DECC and RWM, and in carrying out its assessment will engage with RWM and its contractors, members of the public and interested stakeholders.

The panel includes members with a broad range of geoscience expertise, and includes experts from the UK, Sweden and Canada, with backgrounds in both industry and academia. Two members were selected from among those who volunteered to join the panel in response to an open call to Geological Society Fellows.

The Members of the Panel are:

  • Prof Chris Hawkesworth FRS - University of Bristol (Chair)
  • Prof Mike Bickle FRS - University of Cambridge
  • Mr John Black - Insite Hydro/Independent consultant
  • Dr Robert Chaplow - Independent consultant
  • Dr Karin Högdahl - Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Prof Zoe Shipton - University of Strathclyde
  • Prof Richard Smith - Laurentian University, Canada

The Panel's Remit

The remit of the Independent Review Panel will be in two phases.