WSP and AtkinsRéalis to support NWS’ UK Geological Disposal Facility programme

WSP and AtkinsRéalis have been appointed by Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) under a 10-year agreement to support its Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) programme. 

A GDF is an underground facility designed to safely and securely dispose of radioactive waste deep underground. 

It is made up of surface facilities, access ways, highly engineered vaults and tunnels, housed in suitable geology, to protect people and the environment.

The companies say NWS’ GDF is “one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK and a critical component of the Civil Nuclear Roadmap to 2050”. 

NWS is currently working with three communities across England with the commitment that a GDF will only be built where there is a suitable site and willing community. 

WSP and AtkinsRéalis, supported by Galson Sciences Limited (GSL), part of the Egis Group, have been jointly appointed as the Major Permissions Delivery Partner to deliver an important step in the GDF siting process. 

Under the 10-year agreement, the two firms will undertake environmental assessment, community consultations and the Development Consent Order and permitting applications required to progress with detailed geological investigations in the search for a suitable site. 

Malcolm Orford, head of major permissions at Nuclear Waste Services, said: “This has been a detailed process, and we thank all those that took part and gave their time and effort. 

“We look forward to working with WSP and AtkinsRéalis to progress the permitting and consenting requirements for this vital national infrastructure project.  

“This activity is critical in enabling the works associated with site characterisation where more in-depth investigation is used to further our understanding of an area’s ability to host a GDF. 

“This framework award signifies real progress in the GDF siting process. We will continue our ongoing studies and involve and engage with communities as our search for a suitable site and willing community continues.”  

Barry Cowell, director – strategic growth director at WSP said: “We are delighted to be appointed to the UK Geological Disposal Facility programme and we look forward to collaborating with NWS and AtkinsRéalis with support from GSL to progress what is a 'irst of a kind' national infrastructure project and an integral part of the civil nuclear roadmap to net zero 2050.  

“Whilst positively engaging with and supporting local communities we are keen to deploy our considerable expertise in the environmental permissions and statutory consent process in support of the GDF siting programme.” 

Ed Reed, market director – nuclear and power at AtkinsRéalis, added: “A Geological Disposal Facility will be an essential part of the UK’s future nuclear infrastructure and we look forward to playing our part in supporting NWS in their mission to make nuclear waste permanently safe, sooner. 

“We look forward to working with NWS and WSP to deliver a rigorous permissions process. 

“AtkinsRéalis will be able to share our significant experience in delivering permitting and environmental assessments for national strategic infrastructure projects and nuclear programmes.”

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