Mega-conflict project and social complexity - Illustrated by the decision-making on locating a radioactive waste repository in Denmark

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Abstract

The deposit of radioactive waste is a complex policy problem and a socio-technical challenge with potentially large societal impacts and a very large time horizon. These characteristics are also found in the Danish decision-making process regarding future management of radioactive waste. The process was formally initiated in 2003 when the Danish Parliament gave consent for the government to start preparing a basis for deciding a final repository for Denmark’s low- and intermediate level radioactive waste. After preliminary studies, proposal for a plan for a final repository – and later also a proposal for an interim deposit, strategic environmental assessment and hearings, the process has not led to a final political decision.

This paper explores the decision-making process of site identification, site selection process and choice of technology for storing nuclear waste in Denmark. The paper generates an understanding of the decision-making process, the social complexity involved and the development of conflict.

The main finding is that the social complexity – involving many players, many different interests and potentially large societal impacts – in a combination with a decision-making process characterised as ‘command-and-control’ turns the siting project into what is termed a ‘mega-conflict project’. The limited deliberative and participatory elements in the decision process are found to contribute to the conflict increase – leading to effects like hindrance for decision-making and increase in mistrust towards public authorities. The conflict increase though seems to potentially increase the decision quality by leading to a more thorough analysis of alternative disposal technologies, sites and impacts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
ISSN1462-9011
Publication statusIn preparation - 2018

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repository
Denmark
radioactive waste
decision-making process
decision making
political decision
public authorities
strategic environmental assessment
parliament
hearing
site selection
conflict
project
management
decision

Keywords

  • nuclear waste
  • Decision making
  • conflict
  • social complexity

Cite this

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title = "Mega-conflict project and social complexity - Illustrated by the decision-making on locating a radioactive waste repository in Denmark",
abstract = "The deposit of radioactive waste is a complex policy problem and a socio-technical challenge with potentially large societal impacts and a very large time horizon. These characteristics are also found in the Danish decision-making process regarding future management of radioactive waste. The process was formally initiated in 2003 when the Danish Parliament gave consent for the government to start preparing a basis for deciding a final repository for Denmark’s low- and intermediate level radioactive waste. After preliminary studies, proposal for a plan for a final repository – and later also a proposal for an interim deposit, strategic environmental assessment and hearings, the process has not led to a final political decision.This paper explores the decision-making process of site identification, site selection process and choice of technology for storing nuclear waste in Denmark. The paper generates an understanding of the decision-making process, the social complexity involved and the development of conflict. The main finding is that the social complexity – involving many players, many different interests and potentially large societal impacts – in a combination with a decision-making process characterised as ‘command-and-control’ turns the siting project into what is termed a ‘mega-conflict project’. The limited deliberative and participatory elements in the decision process are found to contribute to the conflict increase – leading to effects like hindrance for decision-making and increase in mistrust towards public authorities. The conflict increase though seems to potentially increase the decision quality by leading to a more thorough analysis of alternative disposal technologies, sites and impacts.",
keywords = "Atomaffald, Beslutningsproces, Konflikt, Social kompleksitet, nuclear waste, Decision making, conflict, social complexity",
author = "Lone K{\o}rn{\o}v and Ivar Lyhne and Larsen, {Sanne Vammen} and Aaen, {Sara Bj{\o}rn}",
year = "2018",
language = "English",
journal = "Environmental Science & Policy",
issn = "1462-9011",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Mega-conflict project and social complexity - Illustrated by the decision-making on locating a radioactive waste repository in Denmark

AU - Kørnøv, Lone

AU - Lyhne, Ivar

AU - Larsen, Sanne Vammen

AU - Aaen, Sara Bjørn

PY - 2018

Y1 - 2018

N2 - The deposit of radioactive waste is a complex policy problem and a socio-technical challenge with potentially large societal impacts and a very large time horizon. These characteristics are also found in the Danish decision-making process regarding future management of radioactive waste. The process was formally initiated in 2003 when the Danish Parliament gave consent for the government to start preparing a basis for deciding a final repository for Denmark’s low- and intermediate level radioactive waste. After preliminary studies, proposal for a plan for a final repository – and later also a proposal for an interim deposit, strategic environmental assessment and hearings, the process has not led to a final political decision.This paper explores the decision-making process of site identification, site selection process and choice of technology for storing nuclear waste in Denmark. The paper generates an understanding of the decision-making process, the social complexity involved and the development of conflict. The main finding is that the social complexity – involving many players, many different interests and potentially large societal impacts – in a combination with a decision-making process characterised as ‘command-and-control’ turns the siting project into what is termed a ‘mega-conflict project’. The limited deliberative and participatory elements in the decision process are found to contribute to the conflict increase – leading to effects like hindrance for decision-making and increase in mistrust towards public authorities. The conflict increase though seems to potentially increase the decision quality by leading to a more thorough analysis of alternative disposal technologies, sites and impacts.

AB - The deposit of radioactive waste is a complex policy problem and a socio-technical challenge with potentially large societal impacts and a very large time horizon. These characteristics are also found in the Danish decision-making process regarding future management of radioactive waste. The process was formally initiated in 2003 when the Danish Parliament gave consent for the government to start preparing a basis for deciding a final repository for Denmark’s low- and intermediate level radioactive waste. After preliminary studies, proposal for a plan for a final repository – and later also a proposal for an interim deposit, strategic environmental assessment and hearings, the process has not led to a final political decision.This paper explores the decision-making process of site identification, site selection process and choice of technology for storing nuclear waste in Denmark. The paper generates an understanding of the decision-making process, the social complexity involved and the development of conflict. The main finding is that the social complexity – involving many players, many different interests and potentially large societal impacts – in a combination with a decision-making process characterised as ‘command-and-control’ turns the siting project into what is termed a ‘mega-conflict project’. The limited deliberative and participatory elements in the decision process are found to contribute to the conflict increase – leading to effects like hindrance for decision-making and increase in mistrust towards public authorities. The conflict increase though seems to potentially increase the decision quality by leading to a more thorough analysis of alternative disposal technologies, sites and impacts.

KW - Atomaffald

KW - Beslutningsproces

KW - Konflikt

KW - Social kompleksitet

KW - nuclear waste

KW - Decision making

KW - conflict

KW - social complexity

M3 - Journal article

JO - Environmental Science & Policy

JF - Environmental Science & Policy

SN - 1462-9011

ER -