What types of participation are there?
Practices and the responsible organisations vary in different countries, but the following are examples:
1. Legally binding requirements
From a situation of only providing information to the public, evolving national legislation has gradually imposed the requirement for the best possible transparency on nuclear matters and, ultimately, an effective public participation in the decision making process. Much of this national legislation has its roots in international conventions or EU legislation.
Two examples of international conventions are:
- The Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. This United Nations convention links environmental and human rights and focuses on interactions between the public and public authorities.
- The ESPOO Convention on environmental impact assessment in a trans-boundary context. This United Nations convention governs environmental impact assessment across borders and the need for public consultations.
Two examples of EU legislation are:
- Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information. This directive ensures freedom of access to, and dissemination of information on the environment held by public authorities and sets out the basic terms and conditions under which such information should be made available.
- Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment. This directive contains a legal requirement to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of certain projects likely to have significant effects on the environment prior to their authorisation.
Specific EU legislation addressing nuclear issues such as the nuclear safety directive and the spent fuel and radioactive waste directive also contain requirements as to public involvement.
2. Hearings and debates coordinated by public entities other than regulators
Public consultation can be required in the context of the planned drafting of legislation or in the procedure leading to the issuing of a licence - often organised by local planning authorities, environmental authorities or government departments. Consultation can take place in the early stage of a licensing procedure, during the operation of the installation or at the end, for the decommissioning of the installation. Such procedures allow local residents to participate in the drafting of decisions by authorities. While they may be compulsory, they are not binding. They include:
- National debates - organised in the context of a draft law, major new policy or a nation-wide project such as the construction of a new nuclear power plant.
- Local hearings - organised locally in the context of a specific project. For example the extension of the operating life of a nuclear installation, or a change in its operating licence.
3. Consultations initiated by national regulators
These can be found by visiting the website of your national regulator. List of national regulators.
4. Standing bodies
Local information committees (Commision Locale d'information, CLI) are an example. CLIs are often set up in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant. They comprise interested groups, notably local representatives and members of civil society. In different countries, similar types of groups may be known as site stakeholder groups or local liaison committees.
How to participate?
Information on public consultations led by the national safety regulators, can be obtained on their websites.
List of national regulators.