The Legacy Ponds and Silos (LP&S) facilities are part of the UK nuclear legacy located at the Sellafield Site, Cumbria. There are four individual facilities containing nuclear wastes that have accumulated over a period of approximately 50 years. Waste retrieval and conditioning, in preparation for decommissioning, is currently being carried out by the site operator. LP&S have recently proposed a re-engagement with stakeholders following the initial engagement in December 2005. This paper reviews this earlier engagement in terms of the nature of dialogue that was carried out when compared against definitions of deliberation provided in the literature. The aim of this paper is to provide those planning future engagement with a better understanding of how the nature of dialogue can vary and uses participation and deliberation as indicators of effective engagement. A concern of those working towards a programme of effective stakeholder participation in 2005 was how to ensure genuine dialogue and stakeholder representation in such a strictly controlled and regulated environment with a technical complexity that challenges technical specialist and layperson alike. LP&S recognised that effective dialogue with stakeholders on the available technical options and their associated societal impacts would form a significant part of this process if options were to prove resilient. However, the challenge presented to LP&S was how to engage stakeholders on a variety of projects, whilst ensuring the output could be used by the projects as part of their technical decision making. Initial contact was made with stakeholders in December 2005, as part of a ‘Baseline’ Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) study. A BPEO study leads to decisions on waste management based on an integrated assessment of alternative options, on the basis of factors such as the occupational and environmental risks, the environmental impacts, costs and social implications of the options. An engagement framework was also developed by LP&S to understand the engagement within the context of that taking place nationally and internationally. LP&S plan to reconvene stakeholders as part of the commitment made to them in 2006 to review progress on decommissioning projects. Currently, the strategy by which this will be achieved is unclear, however it is proposed that rather than full engagement, LP&S will provide a series of information updates to the West Cumbria Site Stakeholder Group (WCSSG). Representing local interests only and potentially reducing the opportunity for deliberation, further research is recommended to assess the nature of dialogue and the role of deliberation in this type of forum.

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