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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 June 2007, 23:20 GMT 00:20 UK
Peers attack nuclear waste plans
Nuclear power station
Peers said the disposal of waste needed to be democratically accountable
Government plans to dispose of nuclear waste have been attacked as "incoherent and opaque" by a committee of peers.

The House of Lords science and technology committee said it had "serious concerns" about how the removal of waste will be overseen.

Chairman Lord Broers attacked Whitehall plans for an advisory body instead of a statutory commission.

He said people "don't have enough confidence in politicians or the government" to trust them on the issue.

'Expert scrutiny'

The committee insisted the government should set up an independent group answerable to parliament to oversee the disposal of radioactive waste.

It is now time to appoint a truly independent, democratically accountable body
Lord Broers

And it attacked ministers for moving with "unseemly haste" towards selecting potential sites.

The government accepted most of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) recommendations for phased deep repository of radioactive material in July 2006.

But it rejected proposals for a statutory Nuclear Waste Management Commission with direct accountability to MPs to oversee the process and implement the programme.

Instead it went for a "new CoRWM" with advisory powers.

The peers' report - entitled Radioactive Waste Management: An Update - said any oversight body needed "clearer lines of accountability and independent, expert scrutiny".

Lord Broers said: "We have serious concerns about the way the government are moving forward with the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely programme.

"The proposals they have announced so far have been incoherent and confusing.

"If the government want people to be confident about the safety of nuclear energy and the disposal of nuclear waste, it is now time to appoint a truly independent, democratically accountable body to oversee the whole process."

The committee also urged the government to find out which areas were geologically appropriate for deep repositories for geological reasons, before looking at which communities would be prepared to host them.

A planned consultation on nuclear waste disposal should be put on hold until an independent body has been established, it added.

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