A leading independent scientific body in the United Kingdom has published a report heavily criticising Britain's nuclear waste disposal policy. Two days ago, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said that nuclear waste disposal in the UK was subjected to rigorous standards.

The Royal Society, Britain's national academy of sciences, said that the problem of disposing of existing waste was serious, urgent and did not command public confidence.

The report said that successive governments and the nuclear industry, had failed to recognise the need for public consent about policies relating to toxic wastes, as well as for public confidence in the institutions that manage them.

The society recommended the creation of an independent Waste Management Commission to find out how people want waste disposed of, through public consultation and debate. It also called for a separate executive body to implement policy.

On RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Professor Geoffrey Boulton who chaired the Royal Society's working group on radioactive waste, said that there needed to be greater public consultation when deciding nuclear waste policy.

The report comes in the wake of comments by Tony Blair earlier this week. Responding to a query by John Hume in the House of Commons about nuclear safety, he stressed that Sellafield and other nuclear facilities in Britain were "subject to the strictest national and international standards".

Mr Blair said that Sellafield had been regularly inspected and "each of these inspections has never found there to be a problem".