Environment Minister Ian Pearson said: “We need to decide how a site for the

geological disposal facility is chosen. As we do that, we want make sure that people have a chance to have their say at every stage in the process.”

But the Scottish government is refusing to countenance burial of nuclear waste there and has excluded itself from the consultation.

Richard Lochhead, cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment said: “We do not accept that it is right to seek to bury nuclear waste, which will remain active for thousands of years, in a deep geological facility or to expect any community to host such a facility.

“This out of sight out of mind policy should not extend to Scotland.”

The Scottish Executive wants long term ‘near surface near site’ facilities so waste can be monitored and transportation is minimised.

Friends of the Earth Scotland, which believes radioactive waste should be sorted securely above ground where it was created, welcomed the stance.

The NGO’s chief executive Duncan McLaren said: “There are no proven safe disposal routes for radioactive waste and burying.

“It is no solution. The best we can do is manage and store the waste carefully.

“Ministers in London must now confirm that they will exclude all Scottish sites from further consideration for deep disposal.”

The facility is intended for long-term disposal of the country’s higher activity radioactive waste, including from nuclear, medical, military sources.

“The proposed disposal facility will be a high-technology, multi-billion pound project that will bring investment and jobs for generations,” said Mr Pearson.

“It will result in significant economic and social benefits both for the host community and the wider surrounding area.”

Views are wanted on the technical aspects of designing and delivering a facility and on the process and criteria for choosing a location.

Mr Pearson stressed this was not the start of the selection process for a site.

“There is no site selection process underway at this point and there won’t be until after we have consulted the public,” he said.

Consultation ends on Friday, November 2.

David Gibbs

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