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UK government national environment strategy ignores nuclear dangers

Nuclear polluting elephant in the great green room Dr David Lowry

The UK Government launched on 11 January – with a media fanfare- its long delayed 150-page national environmental strategy (for England) titled ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment (

Prime Minister May asserted in her foreword: “We hold our natural environment in trust for the next generation. By implementing the measures in this ambitious plan, ours can become the first generation to leave that environment in a better state than we found it and pass on to the next generation a natural environment protected and enhanced for the future.

……. We will use this opportunity to strengthen and enhance the protections our countryside, rivers, coastline and wildlife habitats enjoy, and develop new methods of agricultural and fisheries support which put the environment first.”

 In his own foreword, Environment Secretary Michael Gove added:“Environment is – at its roots – another word for nature, for the planet that sustains us, the life on earth that inspires wonder and reverence, the places dear to us we wish to protect and preserve. We value those landscapes and coastlines as goods in themselves, places of beauty which nurture and support all forms of wildlife….We will underpin all this action with a comprehensive set of environmental principles. To ensure strong governance, we will consult on plans to set up a world-leading environmental watchdog, an independent, statutory body, to hold Government to account for upholding environmental standards.”

These warm green words are, however, not backed up with the kind of action that  recognizes the real environmental priorities with which ministers need to get a grip.

The most egregious omission for action is anything to halt, reverse and deal with  nuclear industry radiological pollution and  nuclear waste from power generation, spent irradiate nuclear fuel  reprocessing and nuclear warhead production.

Chapter 4 is titled’ Increasing resource efficiency and reducing pollution and waste’ but makes zero mention of nuclear waste or radiological pollution, but does expend time and effort  addressing far less ecologically damaging  no radiotoxic waste pollution. Here is an extract:

  1. Improving management of residual waste

Since 2000 we have diverted significant quantities of residual waste – i.e. waste that cannot be reused or recycled – from landfill through the development of energy from waste (EfW) facilities. These generally recover energy from the waste to produce electricity. In 2016/17, some 38% of waste collected by Local Authorities went to EfW compared with 16% that went to landfill. More can be done however. We want to make sure that materials ending up in the residual waste stream are managed so that their full value as a resource is maximised and the impact on the environment of treating them is minimised.

We will continue to encourage operators to maximise the amount of energy recovered from residual waste while minimising the environmental impact of managing it, for example by utilising the heat as well as electricity produced. The actions set out in this Plan will help us build on this to ensure that the value of residual waste as a resource is fully realised and that emissions of carbon dioxide during the energy recovery process are kept as low as possible. We must bear in mind that any infrastructure must be able to adapt to future changes in the volume and make-up of residual waste generated and developments in technology. That way, waste is not locked into residual waste treatment processes when it could be reused or recycled. (page 94)

 Annex 2 of the two Government reports on Environment 25 titled Government strategies to protect and improve the environment(  comprises of nearly 50 “strategies and plans for some of the government’s work to protect and conserve the environment,” but contains not one report that addresses environmental protection from radiation or from nuclear industry operations!

However, two days before the 25-year green strategy was issued, the Government quietly released ( to absolutely zero media attention) a 221- page document that explains how it plans to deal with  nuclear waste in the UK. Clearly ministers wanted attention on plastic waste policy, but  none fon  radioactive waste policy.

The report, titled UK’s sixth national report on compliance with the obligations of the Joint Convention on the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management states it “considers each of the Joint Convention’s obligations and explains how the United Kingdom addresses them.” )

Document   (The fifth report was published in January 2015.)


January 15, 2018 - Posted by | environment, politics, UK

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