Terms of reference for the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management
1. Following the announcements by UK Government and the devolved administrations (Government), on 25 October 2006, a new Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) was appointed under these revised terms of reference designed to meet the future needs of the Government’s Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) programme. The Committee is jointly appointed by UK Government and relevant devolved administration Ministers. Details of its roles, responsibilities and membership are outlined below.
CoRWM’s role and responsibilities
2. The role of the reconstituted Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) is to provide independent scrutiny and advice to UK Government and devolved administration Ministers on the long-term management of radioactive waste, including storage and disposal. CoRWM’s primary task is to provide independent scrutiny on the Government’s and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's (NDA's) proposals, plans and programmes to deliver geological disposal, together with robust interim storage, as the long-term management option for the UK’s higher activity wastes.
3. Sponsoring Ministers (from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the devolved administrations) will agree a three-year rolling programme and budget for CoRWM’s work on an annual basis. Any in-year changes will be the subject of agreement by sponsoring Ministers.
4. CoRWM will provide appropriate and timely evidence-based advice on Government and NDA plans for the delivery of geological disposal under the Managing Radioactive Waste Safety programme. The work programme may include review of activities including waste packaging options, geological disposal delivery programmes and plans, site selection processes and criteria, and the approach to public and stakeholder engagement. Testing the evidence base of the plans for the delivery of geological disposal will be a key component of the work. As well as ongoing dialogue with Government, the implementing body, local authorities and stakeholders, CoRWM will provide an annual report of its work to Government.
5. CoRWM shall undertake its work in an open and consultative manner. It will engage with stakeholders and it will publish advice (and the underpinning evidence) in a way that is meaningful to the non-expert. It will comply, as will sponsoring departments, with 'The Government Chief Scienticfic Advisor's guidelines on the Use of Scientific and Engineering Advice in Policy Making' http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/bispartners/goscience/docs/g/10-669-gcsa-guidelines-scientific-engineering-advice-policy-making.pdf as well as other relevant Government advice and guidelines. Government will respond to all substantive advice. Published advice and reports will be made available in respective Parliaments/Assemblies, as will any Government response. CoRWM’s Chair will attend Parliamentary / Assembly evidence sessions as and when required.
6. With the agreement of CoRWM’s sponsoring Ministers, other parts of Government, the NDA and the regulatory bodies may request independent advice from CoRWM. Relevant Parliamentary / Assembly Committees may also propose work to sponsoring Ministers, for consideration in the work programme. CoRWM’s priority role is set out in paragraph 2 although sponsoring Ministers may also ask the Committee to provide advice on other radioactive waste management issues as necessary.
7. In delivering its annual work programme, and where there is a common interest, the Committee will liaise with regulators and any bodies established to advise Government and the Regulators.
8. CoRWM shall consist of a Chair and up to fourteen members, one of whom will be appointed by Ministers as Deputy Chair on the recommendation of the Chair. members will not be mandated representatives of organisation or sectoral interests and the skills and expertise which will need to be available to the Committee will vary depending on the programme of work. For example, the relevant skills may include: radioactive waste management, nuclear science, radiation protection, environmental law, environment issues, social science (including public and stakeholder engagement), geology / geochemistry / hydrogeology, finance / economics, civil engineering / underground construction technology, geological disposal facility performance / safety issues, materials science, environmental impact assessment, local Government, planning, regulatory processes and ethics. Sponsoring Ministers may review the membership of the Committee, and the skills and expertise required.
9. Appointments will be made following the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) code of practice. Appointments will usually be for two to four years and sponsoring Ministers retain the right to terminate appointments at any time in light of individual members’ performance, changes in CoRWM’s work requirements, or completion of the work required of CoRWM.
10. The Committee, as agreed in the annual plans, may co-opt additional expertise to form or support temporary sub-groups set up to examine specific and defined problems.
Programme of work
11. To support its work, CoRWM will need to familiarise itself with Government policy in this area, including ongoing meetings with relevant Government departments and the NDA. The outline framework within which CoRWM is then expected to work is:
(i) recognising the policy framework within which it will operate including the roles and responsibilities of Government and the NDA in relation to CoRWM’s own advisory role;
(ii) scrutinising Government and NDA proposals, plans and programmes to implement geological disposal and other radioactive waste management issues on which Government might seek advice as agreed in CoRWM’s work plan;
(iii) formulation of advice and reporting to Government based on the best available evidence and informed by the views of stakeholders and the public.
12. Each year CoRWM will prepare its proposed work programme for the next three years, in conjunction with Government, the NDA and regulators, taking account of work by other advisory bodies (see paragraph 7 above). The programme will include details of specific areas of work, reports which it intends to produce, the proposed use of sub-groups and any other activities or events, including proposals for public and stakeholder engagement. CoRWM will submit its proposed three-year work programme to its sponsoring Ministers for discussion and agreement.
13. In familiarising themselves with the relevant background and issues, Members will make themselves aware, and take account, of previous engagement and reports in the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely programme, the UK Radioactive Waste Inventory and the nature of current and expected future UK holdings of nuclear materials. CoRWM will take account of existing technical assessments and research into radioactive waste management in the UK and elsewhere. In particular, it is recognised that CoRWM will need to engage with the NDA given that the Committee’s advice will directly impinge on the long-term responsibilities of the NDA. CoRWM will also take account of other relevant policy developments.
14. The Chair will submit a report to Ministers by 30 June each year on the delivery of the agreed work programme. This will be made available in the UK and Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Access to other sources of expertise
15. Members of CoRWM itself will not have all the skills and expertise necessary to advise Government. The Committee will need to decide how best to secure access to other appropriate sources of expert input during the course of its work. Within this, it will have the option of setting up expert sub-groups containing both Members of CoRWM itself and other appropriate co-opted persons. A member of CoRWM will chair any sub-group of this nature and ensure its effective operation, as well as provide a clear line of responsibility and accountability to the main Committee, and hence to Ministers. This approach will enable the Committee to draw on a broad range of expertise in the UK and elsewhere.
16. The number of such sub-groups will be kept to the minimum necessary. Their role will be that of providing advice for the main Committee to consider and assess as it sees fit, and managing any activity which CoRWM delegates to them. It will be for the main Committee to assess and decide upon the advice it receives from such sub-groups. CoRWM may also utilise other appropriate means of securing expert input, such as sponsored meetings and seminars. The Chair will ensure that sub-group work and all other activities are closely integrated.
Public and stakeholder engagement
17. CoRWM must continue to inspire public confidence in the way in which it works. In order to secure such confidence in its advice it will work in an open and transparent manner. Hence, its work should be characterised by:
• a published reporting and transparency policy;
• relevant public and stakeholder engagement as required;
• clear communications including the use of plain English, publishing its advice (and the underpinning evidence) in a way that is meaningful to the non-expert;
• making information accessible;
• encouraging people to ask questions or make their views known and listening to their concerns;
• providing opportunities for people to challenge information, for example by making clear the sources of information and points of view on which the Committee’s advice is based;
• holding a number of its meetings in public.
Responsibilities of the committee and its members
18. CoRWM will have a corporate responsibility to deliver its advice to sponsoring Ministers in accordance with agreed work plans. It will be for Ministers, with appropriate reference to their respective Parliaments and Assembly, to take decisions on the advice it receives and to give directions to the NDA as necessary on any subsequent changes required in the delivery of geological disposal of the UK’s solid radioactive waste.
19. All members will need to be effective team workers, with good analytical skills and good judgement besides a strong interest in the process of decision-making on difficult issues. A number of them will need experience of project management, advising on scientific and technical issues directly relating to radioactive waste management, public and stakeholder engagement, excellent drafting and communication skills, or business experience and knowledge of economics.
20. The Chair, in addition, will be capable of successfully and objectively leading committee-based projects, grasping complex technical issues, and managing a diverse group effectively and delivering substantial results, presenting progress and outcomes in public. He or she will be a person with appropriate stature and credibility.
Role of the chair
21. The Chair will be responsible for supervising the CoRWM work programme and ensuring that the Committee’s objectives are achieved. The Chair will be responsible for advising Ministers promptly if he or she anticipates that the Committee will not complete its agreed work programme indicating what remedial action might be taken. He or she will be the main point of contact with the public and the media, in presenting progress and answering questions. The Chair will meet Ministers on appointment, and then at least annually along with other members as appropriate. Notes of these meetings will be published. The Chair will ensure CoRWM submits its annual written report to Ministers, by 30 June of each year. The Chair may be required to present the position of CoRWM to Parliament or Assembly committees and representatives as appropriate. The report will set out, among other things, CoRWM’s progress with the agreed work programme, advice deriving from it and costs incurred. Ministers will also appoint a Deputy Chair who can assist the Chair as the latter sees fit.
Role of members
22. Members will work, under the Chair’s supervision, to the programme agreed with sponsoring Ministers, so as to ensure its satisfactory delivery. Members will have a collective responsibility to ensure achievement of CoRWM’s objectives and delivery of its work programme. Individual Members may be appointed by the Chair to undertake specific, active roles, for example chairing sub-groups or in representing CoRWM in meetings with the public, organisations who are contributing to the work, or the media. All members will abide by CoRWM’s Code of Practice and will be subject to individual performance appraisal as laid down by the Cabinet Office guide (see next paragraph).
23. CoRWM is set up by, and answerable to Ministers and is funded by the taxpayer. It must therefore comply with the Cabinet Office guide for Departments (http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/resources/public-bodies.aspx).
24. These and other relevant procedural requirements will be set out in CoRWM’s Code of Practice which Members will agree to, prior to appointment.
25. Sponsoring Ministers will provide CoRWM with resources – both staff and financial – to enable it to carry out its agreed programme of work. These will include a secretariat which will help CoRWM carry out its work programme including, at the outset, providing reading material and arranging for any further briefings and visits. The Chair and Members will have a collective responsibility for delivering the work programme within the agreed budget, although the Chair may request sponsoring Ministers for adjustment to this budget should this be considered necessary.
26. The Chair and Members will be paid for their work for CoRWM at agreed daily rates. They will also be fully reimbursed for all reasonable travel and subsistence costs incurred during the course of their work.