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Learning to Listen: legitimation in UK radwaste management policies Frans Berkhout Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) VU University Amsterdam.

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Presentation on theme: "Learning to Listen: legitimation in UK radwaste management policies Frans Berkhout Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) VU University Amsterdam."— Presentation transcript:

1 Learning to Listen: legitimation in UK radwaste management policies Frans Berkhout Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) VU University Amsterdam

2 Sketch Explanations for a recalcitrant policy problem Linked legitimation problems Institutional change as a response to legitimation problems Three indicators of institutional change Interpreting UK radioactive waste policy over 50 years

3 The question Why, after 50 years, does the management of radioactive wastes remain such a problem for policymakers? Is there learning?

4 Explanations of the problem Uniqueness/newness: radiation Hypotheticality: validation as hypothetical Symbolism: associations with apocalypse Justice: current and intergenerational Environmental politics: contests between centres of political power Legitimation/trust

5 Legitimation ‘…the prestige of being considered binding’ (Weber) Rational discourse as a basis for legitimacy: normative validity of values and factual validity are tested in a fair and transparent way (Habermas)

6 Nested problems of normative and factual validity 1.Legitimacy of radioactive waste generation 2.Legitimacy of storage vs. disposal 3.Legitimacy of standards of radiation protection 4.Legitimacy of safety claims

7 Legitimation and institutional change Hypothesis Institutional change is a response to a legitimation problem

8 Three indicators of institutional change a. segregation between operators and overseers b. the autonomy and power of overseers c. the diversity of oversight bodies

9 Five phases: phase 1 Separating oversight from production ( ) 1946: UKAEA alone 1976: CEGB and BNFL (state-owned) segregated from NII and NRPB Flowers Report RWMAC created

10 Phase 2 Redefining the role of the state ( ) 1981: CEGB, BNFL and Nirex : Privatisation of CEGB Nuclear policy divided between Environment and Industry ministries, oversight duties to Environment Agency Successive Nirex site-search processes (DADA)

11 Phase 3 Collapse of the old order ( ) 1997: Final Nirex site search failure 1999 on: part-privatisation and re-nationalisation of nuclear reactors and reprocessing (NDA) New start on radioactive waste management

12 Phase 4 Reconstructing legitimacy through deliberative appraisal ( ) 2003: CoRWM and exercise of ‘cooperative discourse’ (Renn, 2004) From 2005 new nuclear build debate – separating ‘legacy’ from ‘new’ wastes

13 Phase 5? Re-linking waste management and nuclear development (since 2008) : New nuclear build plans CoRWM Mark 2: conventional expert committee

14 Assessment: segregation Dynamic institutional arrangements Nuclear safety and radiological protection separated early Ownership of industry has fluctuated between the state and private sector No neat history towards greater segregation

15 Assessment: power of oversight Stop-start progression from closed, expert committees to (semi) open and (semi) autonomous overseers with enforcement powers ‘New public management’ as important causal factor

16 Assessment: diversity Composition of advisory bodies and procedures did become more diverse in period (now a reverse?)

17 Conclusions Institutional form and dynamics is a reflection of underlying legitimation problems There is a strong link between industrial and environmental legitimation problems in the nuclear field Radioactive waste has seen much institutional innovation, but fluctuating legitimacy ‘Givenness’ is hard to create, easy to destroy


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