Risk perception and energy infrastructure

The Science and Technology Committee launches a new inquiry examining risk perception and energy infrastructure.


Nuclear power plant

Shortly after the Science and Technology Committee’s report into Scientific Advice and Evidence in Emergencies was published in March 2011, Japan suffered its worst recorded earthquake, followed by a destructive tsunami. This resulted in several explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi power station and major releases of radioactivity.  In response to the crisis in Japan, the German government announced a measured exit from nuclear power.  In the UK, the Government responded to nuclear safety concerns by commissioning a review of what lessons could be learnt from the Fukushima accident to enhance the safety of the UK nuclear industry.

The Science and Technology Committee has agreed to conduct an inquiry exploring risk assessment, communication, perception and tolerability in relation to energy infrastructure, focusing on nuclear power.

Terms of Reference

The Committee seeks written submissions on the following matters:

1. What are the key factors influencing public risk perception and tolerability of energy infrastructure facilities and projects?

2. How are public risk perceptions taken into account in the planning process for energy infrastructure?

3. How effectively does local and central Government communicate risk and could it be improved?

4. To what extent can public perceptions be changed by improving risk communication? (please provide examples)

5. How does and should the Government work with the private sector to understand public perceptions of risk and address them?

6. How do risk perceptions and communication issues in the UK compare to those of other countries?

Submitting written evidence

The Committee invites written submissions on these issues by noon on Wednesday 14 December 2011.

Each submission should:
a) be no more than 3,000 words in length;
b) be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible;
c) have numbered paragraphs; and
d) include a declaration of interests.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked "Risk perception". An additional paper copy should be sent in due course (not by the deadline) to:

The Clerk
Science and Technology Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

Please note that:

• Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
• Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
• Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
• Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

More information on submitting evidence to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:

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