South Wales Must Say NO To Nuclear Waste Facility

South Wales Must Say NO To Nuclear Waste Facility

Swansea has a fresh challenge to contend with this week, with the announcement that UK Government is coming to both Swansea and Llandudno next month, to hold public events about its Site Evaluation proposals, in its search for communities willing to host a Nuclear Waste Facility.

The government’s Radioactive Waste Management department (RWM) has organised a series of events to help people understand the context of it’s proposed approach to Site Evaluation for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) and to answer any questions individuals or organisations may have about their current consultations.

Individuals and organisations are being invited to register their interest in attending the Swansea event on 12th March, or the Llandudno event on 14th March, by emailing siteevaluation@nda.gov.uk. You’ll need to provide:

  • your name, organisation (if any), and email
  • the date and city of your choice
  • your choice of the 12-3pm or 6-9pm session
  • any special requirements in terms of access and diet.

It’s not immediately clear whether Swansea or any other sites are currently being evaluated, and in whose hands any final decision will rest.  What is clear is the immediate strength of feeling in opposition to the idea. Cllr. Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, says he and his colleagues will be strongly opposing any scheme.

According to WalesOnline, the Welsh Government has said it supported the principle of finding a long-term solution for the most dangerous radioactive waste through burying it, but would only support such a site being in Wales if a community was willing to host it.

But residents and experts are shocked at the prospect of allowing nuclear wastes to be buried in Swansea.

Jill Gough, former National Secretary of CND Cymru, says that to dispose of radioactive waste beneath the ground anywhere in Wales – or anywhere on the planet, would be a disaster.

“We might think buried wastes will be safe for 100 or 1000 years, but it is not only Climate Change that makes the geological and hydro-geological future uncertain. Geology is constantly shifting. Some of these radioactive materials will remain dangerous to all living things for 250,000 years.”

What to do with the waste is the big unanswered question for the nuclear power industry, and it’s a key reason so many people oppose the very idea of generating nuclear energy in the first place. Jill says that Radioactive Waste should be:

  • Absolutely isolated from the ecosystem;
  • Not reprocessed in any way;
  • Not transported but stored near to the site where it was produced;
  • Constantly monitored;
  • Stored above ground in repackageable containers marked clearly with all languages;
  • Stored at well signposted very well guarded sites;
  • Well documented for future generations;
  • Generous and ring-fenced financial resources made available to maintain storage sites.

“Most of all – we should stop producing any more radioactive wastes immediately.” she says. “Those of us who have campaigned for decades against nuclear power across the UK have seen this serious radioactive waste problem looming.”

There is to be a generous financial “bribe” offered to communities willing to take the Radioactive Waste, which could seem tempting to struggling communities in our cash strapped corner of South West Wales.  The government website says that communities willing to take part in the Site Evaluation consultation process will receive £1m a year initially and up to £2.5m a year if boreholes are drilled

But Dawn Lyle, director of regional engagement at 4theRegion, says the government in Westminster is clearly not on the same page as local people when it comes to their vision for our region.

“We want a region that protects and enhances its natural environment, that prioritises the well-being of people, places and the planet – and looks after the well-being of future generations. This region certainly does not want to be an enabler for the nuclear power industry, which puts the future well-being of people and the planet in direct jeopardy. No amount of money could ever compensate for the possibility of future contamination of our land and our water.”

Joe Kidd, Vice-Chair of Marine Energy Wales, agrees.  “Welsh Government has been strongly supportive of the move to renewables, particularly the opportunity to take a global lead in marine energy. The Well-being of Future Generations Act is also lauded across Europe as a bold, positive step in the right direction. Unfortunately, getting our hands dirty with disposal of nuclear waste feels very out of kilter with this clean, green vision for the future.”

 

What do you think?

Please take part in our (totally unscientific) polls over on Twitter and Facebook.

There are a number of petitions up and running that you may wish to sign, including this one on Change.org

Swansea CND & Labour CND Cymru are also holding an organising meeting for those that want to protest the public meeting on 12th March.  The meeting will be held at the Environment Centre on Tuesday 19th Feb from 7pm.

Please let us know if you hear of other meetings relating to this issue and we will endeavour to share them widely.

And finally, whatever your views, please register to attend one of the public meetings on 12th March by emailing siteevaluation@nda.gov.uk.

4theRegion Members – let us know your views on this and any other regional matters by emailing info@4theRegion.com

4theRegion – Independent, Collaborative & for South West Wales

Fill out my online form.

p.s. Please save the date for the Swansea City Centre Conference:

Procuring Transformation – Event Series Exploring Regional Procurement

Procuring Transformation – Event Series Exploring Regional Procurement

4theRegion has held a series of Appreciative Enquiries into Procurement.  With diverse participants from the public and private sector, we’ve had engagement from Carmarthenshire Council, City Deal, Swansea Council, the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner in Welsh Government, and businesses including major contractors and a mix of smaller local businesses.

Immediately apparent are some of the frustrations felt by both small and large businesses about the extent of bureaucracy around procurement. The sheer volume of work involved in any significant tender process was cited repeatedly as a barrier to small businesses.  Larger businesses reported teams of people devoting months of work to complete just the pre-qualification stage of framework agreements, and the frustration of having to repeat that process every four years to re-qualify.

Other frustrations include the apparent disregard for the immeasurable community benefit of using a local supplier.  The recycling of that money in the local economy, the community projects for schools, the elderly and others, the ripple effects of local people having jobs – these were considered to be “invisible values” that regionally-based firms are able to contribute to wider society.  Our participants felt these beneficial impacts aren’t being effectively demanded, revealed, measured, scored or valued during the tender process.

And of course everyone agreed that the focus on price – and in particular on short term cost, over anything else, is the fundamental problem. Procurement must focus on the whole life / long term cost of goods and services, in environmental, economic and social terms. And must recognise that the focus on price tends to favour the huge corporations who can afford to be cheaper, but who generally can’t deliver the lasting social and economic wellbeing that we all want to see. 

All participants have felt it has been useful to hear the honest views of businesses expressed in this forum.  Colleagues from the local authorities also endorsed the collaborative approach of the meeting.  All too often, discussions about procurement pit the large purchasers against the suppliers in a blame game, but everyone agreed that in fact we are all on the same team, and only by working together will we deliver the change we want to see. 

Based on the principle of crowdsourcing wisdom, 4theRegion is on a mission to ensure businesses, as well as third sector organisations and communities, are meaningfully engaged in the transformation process, helping to shape a new way of working together.  So, emerging from the initial discussion, the following questions guided discussion.

How might we change the way major organisations buy goods and services so that all the benefits of that procurement, and the £6bn of public spend, are retained in the region?

How might we make procurement a force for good, and ensure that the “invisible value” and “added value” that comes from regional procurement is recognised and scored as part of the tender process?

Through the process of appreciative enquiry – acknowledging the best of what is and could be, imagining a better future, and capturing opportunities to move forward – a shared vision has emerged during our sessions, of a region transformed by ‘procurement as a force for good’. High quality jobs and academia, flourishing industries, green transportation, clean air and wellbeing – a glimpse of what could be, if we get this right.

The overarching intention of the events is to start to link procurement principles and processes with the aims of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and the 7 well-being goals for Wales. We regard this as a huge opportunity for the region – not just the permission but also the statutory obligation to change the way we work. Local Authorities and others know they must evolve in accordance with the new law, and the question now is how.

An array of themes and practical ideas have emerged from our discussions so far. 

  • Narrative, not checkboxes – give businesses the opportunity to explain why they are the best choice, and their added value, even if they don’t “tick all the boxes”.

  • Human, face to face relationships between buyers and sellers, not the “computer says No approach”

  • Industry involved in shaping upcoming tenders – meet the buyer events much earlier in the process.

  • Simplify!

  • Demand, measure and score tenders based on whole of life value.

  • Embedding ethical standards – fair trade, b-corp, living wage – in procurement as a way of making change possible and affordable in the private sector.

  • Business Not As Usual – Just because something doesn’t currently work the way we wish it did, doesn’t mean it CANT – be prepared to think the unthinkable, rethink and rewrite the rules.

While Local Authority partners are focussed on ‘upskilling regional businesses’ so that we might succeed in winning more tenders, regional businesses wondered whether we are simply being trained to jump hoops in a broken system. More emphasis on engaging and training public sector procurement staff in better ways of measuring “added value”, and on what the Wellbeing Act means for them, was felt to be a good idea, and one that is immediately implementable.

In terms of outputs, groups have discussed the possibility of drafting a new kind of PQQ, and/or a set of procurement principles, which we would expect to feed into policy-making at all levels. 

Participants have agreed that the first priority is INVOLVEMENT. Let’s ensure we continue to have this conversation with more and more of the right people, including communities affected by decisions on Procurement, businesses and third sector organisations with a desire to contribute, procurement staff within public organisations, decision makers and policy makers at all levels.

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, the City Region Growth Deal, and a new era of regional collaboration in South West Wales. All this context makes NOW absolutely the right time to be having these conversations, and 4theRegion is putting together a calendar of further events on this subject, which we hope you will want to be part of.

Empowering Future Generations Conference, Swansea, June 2018

Empowering Future Generations Conference, Swansea, June 2018

South West Wales biggest sustainability conference took place on 14th June 2018, exploring the challenges & opportunities of Implementing the principles of the Circular Economy in line with The Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015.  With a host of great speakers, lots of regional businesses and representatives from all sectors, Empowering Future Generations was an inspiring event and the start of the journey to transform the well-being of South West Wales.

Keynote Speakers

The opening address was given by Dr. Jane Davidson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement and Sustainability at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  Jane has won a number of UK awards for her work. From 2007 – 2011, Jane was Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in Wales where she proposed legislation to make sustainable development its central organising principle – the Well-being of Future Generations Act came into law in April 2015.

 

 

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, closed the event at the end of the day.  Sophie was appointed as the first Future Generations Commissioner for Wales in February 2016. Her role is to act as a guardian for the interests of future generations in Wales, and to support the public bodies listed in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to work towards achieving the well-being goals.

 

Leader of Swansea Council, Cllr. Rob Stewart provided an update about Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, to an audience of business people unanimous in their support for the project.  There was a lot of anticipation in the air about an imminent announcement about this important regional project.  A couple of weeks following the event, the announcement came from Westminster that the UK Government would not be supporting the project.

 

 

Photo Gallery

Event Summary

 

Empowering Future Generations was the region’s first major circular economy conference, held on 14th June, and brought a diverse mix of around 250 participants together at the Liberty Stadium.  The day was a cross-sector opportunity to explore how this region might rise to the challenge of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, which requires organisations to embrace the principles of long term thinking, collaboration, prevention, integration and involvement, in pursuit of the 7 well-being goals.  The move towards a circular economy and “zero waste” is a key component of this – changing the way businesses and people think in order to redesign, reuse, recycle and remanufacture, as opposed to the linear make-use-dispose model that we currently operate on. But it’s also about the move towards a “well-being economy”, where we prize more highly the well-being of the planet, ourselves and our communities, than purely economic growth at any cost.

With 20 expert speakers from across industry, all excited about Wales potential to lead the way in this area, it was a jam-packed agenda which was kept on track by expert chairing from Dr Jane Davidson of University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  The Well-being of Future Generations Act is undoubtedly a catalyst for culture change, for transforming our economy and developing differently to the rest of the UK and the rest of the world. But some key barriers were also identified, not least procurement.  Only when public bodies truly embed well-being principles into the way they evaluate and select their suppliers, will businesses be empowered to change.

And at the other extreme, it’s about personal choices and individual behaviour, and our speakers challenged us all to reflect on this.  Do we pick up a single use non-recyclable coffee cup, or a china one? Do we put in the extra effort it takes to find a sustainable mode of travel, or do we jump in our cars?  Do we hand back our plastic waste at the supermarket checkouts, or do we continue to tolerate obscene levels of plastic and non-recyclable packaging across the retail sector? Going further, do we empower ourselves as leaders when we go to work, to make change happen in our workplaces and businesses?  Often, change happens as the result of one passionate and determined individual refusing to accept the status quo, deciding to combine their personal convictions and their professional influence as a force for good.

It was an inspiring day, with numerous examples of businesses and organisations who are pioneering new ways of working and making change happen.  What made our event distinctive was undoubtedly the healthy mix of public and private sector participants, and the involvement of third sector organisations and social enterprises, brought together in a spirit of co-creation.  With council leaders, officers and local councillors from across the region, as well as large businesses and small companies from all sectors, policy makers from Welsh government, experts, novices, advocates and cynics all taking part – not just in the conference but in the collaborative afternoon workshops – it was a very thought-provoking day, rounded off by a call to action from Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.

But it’s only the start of the conversation.  For many of us, the Empowering Future Generations conference was the first time we really considered how much needs to change if we are to create a prosperous, resilient, healthier, more equal, cohesive, vibrant and responsible Wales.  The challenge now is to make that change happen, by continuing to work together around some of the ideas proposed at the conference.

Event Programme

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