Prominent economist Professor Ross Garnaut AO has been named as one of the first witnesses to appear before the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

Professor Garnaut heads a list of experts who will be called by the Commission when it begins hearing evidence at public sessions next month.

Commissioner Kevin Scarce announced today the first session – investigating climate change and energy – will be held on Wednesday, September 9 at The Science Exchange building in Adelaide from 9am.

He also outlined the process of the sessions, including Mr Garnaut as the first witness, and details about the live-streaming of proceedings.

“We are now entering a new and important information-gathering phase of the Commission – a four-month block of public sessions organised around topics which, based on our investigations so far, are critical to our inquiry,” he said.

“The information gathered through the public sessions will be added to our own analysis and research, including what we learned from our overseas visits and information received via written submissions, to allow us to answer our Terms of Reference in May next year.

“The public sessions are intended to be quite a structured process, in that we will be calling witnesses from both Australia and overseas with specific expertise in a particular topic. We will also be inviting authors of some written submissions to provide additional evidence that is important to our understanding of the topic at hand.”

Other topics to be covered during September’s sessions include the National Electricity Market, geology and hydrogeology in SA and low carbon energy options, including nuclear power. Later this year, witnesses will be called on other topics more specific to the nuclear fuel cycle, including the lessons learned from past activities in SA, the threat posed by radiation to humans and the environment, the storage and disposal of waste, regulatory oversight and best practice in community engagement.

Mr Scarce said that while the majority of public sessions would be held in Adelaide, some will also be scheduled for major regional towns later in the year. All sessions will be streamed via the Commission’s website. Some early sessions will be held at The Science Exchange building to allow the public to attend.

“We have made a commitment throughout this process to engage and inform South Australians about the Commission. We have always aimed to be transparent in our processes, highlighting how we are researching both the risks and opportunities. It is important that we continue to seek out the facts, and further test them,” he said.

The Commission has received almost 250 submissions from interested stakeholders, including individuals, community groups, businesses and government representatives. Submissions can be viewed here.

The Commission last week also released details of the successful tenderers who will provide quantitative data and analysis on specific infrastructure associated with potentially growing the nuclear fuel cycle in SA. A specific public session aimed at explaining the approach for these projects is planned for late October.

Commissioner Scarce yesterday left for South Korea to investigate its nuclear industry.