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Society tells NDA: skilled workforce "essential"

Sarah Day

The Society has responded to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority R&D Strategy consultation, writes Sarah Day

Geoscientist Online 15 December 2008

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority recently published its proposed research and development strategy for the management of radioactive waste, to which the Geological Society has submitted a response.

The Society welcomed the fact that the NDA has consulted widely, recognising the need to develop strategic alliances with a wide range of key players. Historically, the NDA has been regarded with suspicion by parts of the geoscientific community, and we therefore welcomed the opportunity to play an active part in the radioactive waste management programme.

The Society pointed out the importance of active research communities carrying out work complementary to that of the NDA, challenging assumptions and setting it in a broader context. In this way, funding and career development options will be increased, benefitting the NDA itself as well as individuals and institutions.

We also stressed the importance of the NDA’s research programme being appreciated and championed in central government, and pledged to work with fellow learned societies and other organisations to raise the profile of the programme and emphasise the importance of sustained funding and institutional support over the coming decades.

For the programme to be successful, it is vital to develop and nurture a skilled workforce of suitably qualified and experienced geoscientists. The Society pointed out a number of ways in which it can assist with this, including continuing to press the case for suitable training through MSc programmes, and supporting high quality teaching through its degree accreditation scheme. However, we pointed out that our role is an auxiliary one, and that it is incumbent on the NDA to ensure there are genuine and well advertised opportunities for young scientists to develop careers in related research areas.

The Society also stressed the importance of critically examining overseas research to ensure that it is applied appropriately in the UK context. We pointed out that recent UK participation in EU and other international programmes has been sporadic and not rationally planned, and that there is much to be gained from engagement with such programmes. In doing so, development of the UK skills base and national capability should be paramount.

Finally, the Society highlighted the work which it has already participated in, particularly the planning of the recent RWMD R&D Strategy workshop. We stand ready to provide further assistance, drawing on the expertise within our membership, through which we can offer advice on both geoscientific issues and skills availability, and with others to continue to provide institutional support and channels of communication with a range of audiences.

Read full response here