Nuclear Information Centre.

Is the Future Nuclear?


(August 2022)

The current UK government is still actively promoting and committing to both civil and military nuclear projects. Trident was officially renewed in 2016, Hinkley Point C is under construction and Sizewell C has been granted initial planning permission. The cap on UK nuclear warhead numbers was increased for the first time in decades in 2021 and according to an April 2022 policy paper, new civil nuclear programmes are planned to provide up to 25% of the UK’s electricity by 2050 which includes the wish to develop Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). Interestingly, the UK has been using small (PWR) reactors to power its nuclear submarines for decades but with each one servicing a crew of less than 200, certain questions might be raised about political priorities and distribution of resource.

However, even if all global nuclear programmes were to cease overnight the legacy of around seventy years of nuclear waste and contamination will endure long into the future.

A long term public ‘consent based’ consultation process is currently underway in the UK to find a suitable site and ‘willing’ community to host a geological disposal facility (GDF) in which to bury and permanently seal off the UK’s higher activity radioactive waste. A wealth of goverment documents and media are available on the subject but as with most public information material, the official narrative is one of neat and tidy progession and outcomes whereas the realities of such a long, drawn out process will invariably be messier given almost guaranteed tensions between objective long term scientific ‘solutions’ and subjective short term day to day human considerations.

It seems the future is both nuclear and unclear.