The planning regime for radioactive waste disposal in England and Wales
Produced in partnership with Burges Salmon LLP.
The planning regime for radioactive waste disposal in England and Wales

The following Planning practice note Produced in partnership with Burges Salmon LLP. provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The planning regime for radioactive waste disposal in England and Wales
  • What is radioactive waste?
  • The issue of disposal
  • LLW policy
  • HAW policy
  • The Waste Hierarchy
  • Current approach to radioactive waste in the UK
  • Nuclear waste or future resource?
  • Current treatment and packaging solutions by category
  • Planning regime for radioactive waste disposal
  • More...

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this content. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—the implications for English and Welsh planning law and practice or visit the Planning area of the Brexit toolkit.

What is radioactive waste?

Radioactive waste in the UK arises (and will arise) from past, existing and future programmes for power generation from nuclear fission, the reprocessing of nuclear fuel, the development of nuclear weapons, the nuclear submarine fleet and waste from radioactive material used for civil purposes such as in medicine, engineering and research.

There are four categories of waste, determined according to the levels of radioactivity they contain: High Level Waste (HLW), Intermediate Level Waste (ILW), Low Level Waste (LLW) and Very Low Level Waste (VLLW).

For a technical definition of ‘radioactive waste’ see Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations, SI 2016/1154, Sch 23 Pt 2, para 3.

HLW, ILW and a small percentage of LLW are categorised together as ‘Higher Activity Waste’ (HAW) that is not suitable for long-term near-surface disposal in current facilities. In line with recommendations from the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), the preferred course of action is to identify

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