FMQs: “No talks, no sites identified” regarding nuclear waste burial

First Minister accepts High Court inquiry judgement

The first question from Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E. & Dinefwr), related to last night’s indicative votes on Brexit. 24 Labour MPs from Wales voted against a second referendum and a large number opposed revoking Article 50.

The to and fro was similar what we’ve heard before, boiling down to the Welsh Government supporting an option that’s as close to the Welsh Government-Plaid Cymru Brexit paper as possible. However, the First Minister warned that revoking Article 50 would be serious and couldn’t be used as a negotiating tactic, only to prevent crashing out of the EU without a deal at the last minute (still set for April 12th).

Adam Price’s second series of questions related to the High Court judgement on the Sargeant QC inquiry. Did the Welsh Government accept they unlawfully interfered? Would the Sargeant family receive an apology? Would it be converted into a statutory public inquiry?

“I can confirm that the Welsh Government accepts the judgment of the High Court in full. I can confirm I first became aware of the terms of the judicial review and the issues at stake on it when I was briefed on becoming First Minister. I can also confirm I’m in the process of receiving advice on what the judgment says and the courses of action available to me. As soon as I’m able to resolve those issues, I’ll issue a statement to the Assembly setting out my decisions.”
– First Minister, Mark Drakeford AM (Lab, Cardiff West)

Criticism of GP contract negotiations

Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.), said GPs were in crisis:

“The BMA in Wales spoke out at the weekend with what they called sadness over how recent contract negotiations with your Government had gone. Chairwoman of the general practitioners’ committee, Charlotte Jones, said your overall approach had been disappointing and that the result…fell well short of a deal where the committee could actually look doctors in the eye and say it was good for the profession.”
– Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies

He added that there weren’t only GP problems, but falls in the number of midwives, nurses and visiting staff too.

The First Minister said GPs have been offered a 5.4% raise in the 2019-20 contract and talks will resume to discuss alternative ideas. Employment in the Welsh NHS was at record levels (92,500 staff) with increases in doctors, consultants, scientific/technical staff and ambulance staff – but this was conveniently overlooked by the Tories.

“No sites identified” for nuclear waste burial

Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) asked for a statement on nuclear waste burial. Radiological waste disposal is a devolved matter, but it was unclear whether this related to nuclear energy – which was reserved to the UK Government.

Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales) said the decision as to where to bury the waste would ultimately be determined by geology. Has there been any discussion with six locations identified in England?

“The Welsh Government has not identified any sites or communities where geological disposal of radioactive waste could take place, and there is no intention to do so. A facility can only be built in Wales if there is a community willing to host it, and it secures full planning, safety and environmental consents.”
– First Minister, Mark Drakeford

The First Minister added that, as far as he knows, geological disposal of nuclear waste is devolved. It shouldn’t be left for future generations as the mess is already there. There hasn’t been any engagement with any particular locations as – referring to his earlier answer – it would be down to communities to come forward voluntarily; the entire process of getting an agreement could take 20 years from start to finish.

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