Socio-economics, Sustainability and Climate Change

Nuleaf works to promote the best economic, social and environmental outcomes for communities. We engage with government, the NDA and RWM to promote a joined-up approach that maximises the added value delivered by the large sums of public money spent.

Principles of sustainable development should be central to what NDA does. Its core role is one of environmental remediation, but its activities have broader impacts on communities and society. The long timescale over which the NDA mission will operate requires that intergenerational equity is addressed in all decisions taken.

Socio-economics

The Energy Act (2004) established a duty on the NDA to ‘support and encourage activities benefiting the social and economic life of local communities.’  More recently the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and Nuclear Sector Deal set clear objectives for delivering wider economic benefits through decommissioning.

The NDA spends over £3 billion per year, largely drawn from public spending. Nuleaf wants to see the maximum benefits from this for host communities. We advocate an integrated approach to socio-economics that covers direct and indirect employment, procurement, skills and community benefits.

In 2020 the NDA published its Local Economic and Social Impact Strategy. This represents a step forward in approach. In particular, we welcome the commitment to the development of local socio-economic plans built in partnership with local authorities. This site-specific approach is also supported by the Social Impact Strategy and Transformation Plan for Sellafield and the Magnox Socio-economic plan

Another important requirement on the NDA is to deliver Social Value. The appointment by NDA of former Cabinet Minister Hazel Blears as their Social Value Specialist is welcome.

The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 places a duty on all those who commission public services to secure wider economic, social and environmental benefits. In Wales, the Well-being of Future Generation Act requires public bodies to consider the long-term impact of their decisions, to work with communities, and to address issues such as poverty and climate change. New Social Value guidance issued by the UK Government in 2020 strengthens the requirement and emphasises the need for an integrated approach that encompasses not just economic well-being but also sustainable development and climate change.

Looking forward, Nuleaf wishes to see the NDA build on its recent work on socio-economics and social value and develop an effective and integrated approach that maximises added value. We want NDA to:

  • Use the Local Economic and Social Impact Strategy as the basis for an approach that engages with local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to develop site specific plans. These should link NDA’s work with wider objectives on energy, infrastructure, skills and sustainability.
  • Ensure that the approach to decommissioning best maintains direct employments and maximises indirect employment.
  • Fully integrate Social Value into procurement decisions to enable the best support for the supply chain, and in particular for local businesses and SMEs.
  • Work with local authorities on the skills agenda, connecting with schools, colleges and higher education institutions.

Finally, we believe that NDA should develop a comprehensive framework that supports Community benefits. This should recognise the impacts on communities of hosting (a) nuclear decommissioning sites (b) long term nuclear waste stores (c) radioactive waste management and disposal infrastructure such as landfill sites and (d) radioactive waste left in-situ or on-site.

Nuleaf’s position is set out in more detail in our Policy Statements on Socio-economics  and Community Benefits .

Sustainability and Climate Change

The UK is committed to delivering Net Zero Carbon by 2050, with a 68% cut in emissions required by 2030.

The NDA has a significant carbon footprint. Nuleaf’s Executive Director sits on the NDA’s Net Zero Beacon Project Group and is supporting the development of a plan for the NDA to reach net zero by 2050 for both its direct and indirect emissions.

NDA has also prepared a Group Sustainability Report and has sought to strengthen commitments on sustainable development and climate change within its guiding Strategy.

Nuleaf welcomes these steps. Local authorities have many years of expertise in promoting sustainable development and taking forward action on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and preparing plans to adapt communities to the impacts of climate change.

We will work to encourage NDA to engage and collaborate with local authorities and communities to develop a local response at each NDA site. This should include a full consideration of the opportunities to promote sustainable interim uses of sites as they await final clearance.