HC Deb 15 June 1999 vol 333 cc142-3
5. Dr. Ian Gibson (Norwich, North)

What plans he has for research on the disposal of radioactive waste. [85783]

The Minister for the Environment (Mr. Michael Meacher)

The Department's plans for environmental research are contained in the environmental protection group research newsletter 1999–2000, a copy of which is available in the Library. These include two projects specifically on the disposal of radioactive waste—an assessment of the long-term safety concerns that determine confidence in waste management options, and the continuation of the high-level waste and spent fuel disposal research strategy project.

Dr. Gibson

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree with the recent national consensus conference on radioactive waste management that was held in London, which reached the conclusion that there should be no further development of the nuclear industry until we learn how to deal adequately with the waste problem?

Mr. Meacher

We certainly agree that the disposal of radioactive waste—an issue that has defeated previous Governments on a number of well-known occasions—is a matter that needs to be resolved. For that reason, we will publish our response soon to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. We agree that there should be wide-ranging consultations before final conclusions are reached as to whether radioactive waste should be stored above ground or in deep underground repositories. Until that matter is resolved, there will continue to be serious problems for the industry.