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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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Referendum ruled out over west Cumbria nuclear dump

A referendum will not be held on whether high-level radioactive waste should be buried in west Cumbria.

The group set up to consult the public on plans for a possible underground nuclear repository in either Allerdale or Copeland has ruled out the move for now.

However, a telephone poll will be carried out by polling firm Ipsos MORI.

Allerdale, Copeland and Cumbria county councils have all expressed an interest in being involved in the process to find a site for a dump – the only local authorities in Britain to do so. Their interest is non-binding and all three can pull out at any time.

The public is being consulted on the plan by the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership. But there are growing calls for a referendum in west Cumbria.

The partnership said: “Some people have suggested that there should be a referendum before a decision is made.

“However, the partnership concluded that a referendum would not be appropriate at this point.

“This is partly because it is not yet known where a repository might be sited and therefore there is only general information available on key issues such as safety, geology and the impact of constructing these facilities.”

Tim Knowles, chairman of the partnership, added: “As this issue would particularly affect people in west Cumbria, we decided that an opinion survey should be carried out in this area to gauge public opinion.

"It’s vitally important that we know what local people think. The poll, together with the responses we get to the consultation, will play a key role in helping the councils decide whether the area should take part in the search for a repository site.”

The opinion poll will start around March 8.

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