An introduction to the BNFL National Stakeholder Dialogue
Author: Grace McGlynn, former BNFL Stakeholder Dialogue Process Co-ordinator, BNFL
Until now the experience, learning and reports from the most extensive and detailed stakeholder engagement process in the UK’s nuclear sector have not been readily accessible.
The National Stakeholder Dialogue process, sponsored by British Nuclear Fuels Limited, ran from 1998 until 2004, with the purpose to ‘inform BNFL’s decision-making process about the improvement of their environmental performance in the context of their overall development.’
Under this non-controversial umbrella, the Dialogue process, with its independent convenor and facilitation began to address issues around BNFL’s operational activities and business performance which had attracted previous stakeholder concern and opprobrium.
The process design also introduced into the UK nuclear sector effective stakeholder engagement tools and techniques which enabled successive Working Groups of multi-disciplined stakeholders to tackle increasingly complex and contentious topics. From initially considering issues around nuclear waste management and radioactive discharges to the environment, as the prevailing atmosphere became more collaborative and respect and trust between stakeholders increased, contentious topics around spent fuel management options, plutonium disposition and security were examined.
Involvement in the Dialogue process also provided first-hand experience of the value to be gained from interactive and collaborative working and the role that stakeholder engagement has in strategy development and the successful implantation of business operations and programmes.
Given that the Dialogue finished in 2004 it is important to ask what relevance the reports and process learning have for the nuclear sector today.
The UK nuclear landscape is very different – responsibilities for the operational activities and issues addressed by the Dialogue now reside in different organisational orbits and the hard-won experience of effective stakeholder engagement around nuclear energy and nuclear fuel cycle matters does not appear to have seamlessly transitioned into today’s landscape. However, the attitudes and arguments both pro- and anti-nuclear have remained practically unchanged, so the Dialogue still has much to teach and many questions to ask.
The Dalton Nuclear Institute has recognised this: the experience, learning and products gained through the Dialogue still have relevance and these outputs can be used to ensure that future engagement in the UK nuclear arena has an improved chance of success. The full range of Dialogue reports are now available here via The Beam – accessible below.
The Environment Council
Independent Convenor of the BNFL National Stakeholder Dialogue, by Steve Robinson
Journal of Public Affairs
BNFL National Stakeholder Dialogue: a case study in public affairs, by Anthony Perret
Working Group and study reports
All published papers
Reports and additional content
Main and Co-ordination Group meetings summary reports and additional content
BNFL National Stakeholder Dialogue
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