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Dounreay Local Liaison
At Dounreay, the committee met twice a year. New terms of reference were introduced in 1978 "to provide a forum for discussion and comment" and meetings were opened up to the media in 1987. Now, almost half a century after their inauguration, local liaison committees are being consigned to the history books.
The public perception and interest in the nuclear industry has changed over the years, and the expectations of stakeholders in 2005 are different from their predecessors. The introduction of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority brings with it expectations of greater open-ness, transparency and engagement, and the NDA wants to see this reflected in how stakeholders engage with their local sites and the NDA itself.
A network of local stakeholder groups is being established around the 20 NDA sites, and these will be linked to a national stakeholder group. Unlike the old local liaison committees, which were controlled by the site operator, the new stakeholder groups will set their own agenda.
Funding and secretarial support will be provided by the NDA through the site operator but the issues debated and subjects probed will be determined by the group itself, which will have its own web site. Meetings will be held in public and advertised, and the chair will be independent of the industry.
The last act of the Dounreay Local Liaison Committee was to appoint a working group to produce draft terms of reference for the new Dounreay Stakeholder Group. The draft lists more than 20 different organisations locally who will be invited to make up the membership, ranging from local authorities, the business community, press groups and the Kirk, with provision to appoint up to five members of the public. An inaugural meeting is planned for March.
Guy Owen, Dounreay's head of safety, environment and quality assurance, has represented the site on the local liaison committee for many years. He said: "The structure of the new groups gives local stakeholders potentially a very powerful voice to influence the actions of both the site operator and the NDA, and we welcome this. Decommissioning raises very important issues for the local community, not least in terms of jobs and the local economy, and it is vital that the views of the community are fully debated and heard to ensure that we deliver the programme in a way that is publicly acceptable."