Radioactive waste body seeks PR help

The body set up by the Government to develop a long-term strategy for managing radioactive waste is on the hunt for its first media relations adviser.

The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, which came into being late last year, has been set up to handle a consultation exercise into the subject and recommend options for dealing with radioactive waste for at least the next two centuries.

Committee secretary Adam Scott said: ‘What we are looking for is a media relations adviser, which may be one individual or an agency to advise us with our public communication.’

He said the external adviser would be charged with looking at methods to engage interested parties, such as those living near waste sites, as well as the health and science communities, in the consultation process. The task will involve national, local and sector specific PR.

Despite being set up by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as well as the environment departments of the regional governments in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, the committee will work independently of Government.

Scott added the committee is looking to select an agency from the COI roster of agencies for the media adviser brief. However, he welcomed contact from non-rostered agencies as other PR work may arise before the committee reports its findings at the end of 2005.

The committee was created following another public consultation exercise in 2001 – called Managing Radioactive Waste Safely – which called for the setting up of the committee since there had been an absence of a long-term strategy for dealing with radioactive waste.

Scott added that it was also important that the work of the committee is transparent. It hopes to achieve this in part by conducting public meetings – the next is scheduled for 9 February in London.

Transparency and the ability to win public confidence were key stipulations from environment secretary Margaret Beckett in setting up the body.

The committee is chaired by economist and energy policy expert Gordon MacKerron. Members include risk management specialist Professor David Ball and Friends of the Earth co-founder and former Greenpeace UK chairman Pete Wilkinson.

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