Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Copeland's county councillors back underground store site search

Copeland councillors have given their unanimous backing for a ‘yes’ decision in next week’s crucial nuclear waste repository vote.

Members of Cumbria County Council’s local committee for Copeland yesterday urged their colleagues on the decision-making cabinet to proceed to the next stage of the process into the possibility of burying high-level nuclear waste in west Cumbria.

The cabinet - along with the executives of Copeland and Allerdale councils - will decide next Wednesday whether to pursue with or end the search to find a suitable location locally for a geological disposal facility (GDF) that would store highly radioactive waste.

Frank Morgan, chair of the committee, said: “We don’t get a vote but we wish to communicate to the cabinet our unanimous support of proceeding to the next stage. I ask people what credible reason can there be to oppose a study to find out if our geology is suitable?”

Councillor John Woolley added: “I urge the cabinet to move to the next stage for further investigation. Even if we proceed, there is a written guarantee from the Government that we can pull out of it [up to the point of construction starting].”

Councillor Wendy Skillicorn said: “We need to know scientific facts then base our decision on that.”

Andrew Wonnacott, councillor for Hillcrest in Whitehaven, said all those he has spoken to in his area are “in full support of it”.

If Cumbria County Council - and one of the district councils - vote in favour, the process will move forward to stage four, involving desktop studies in geology to identify suitable locations. These are likely to take five years to complete.

Opponents to the process have expressed safety concerns for people and the environment if the GDF is given the go-ahead, and are urging the three councils - the only ones in the country to volunteer in the process - to vote ‘no’ next week. There is particular concern in the Ennerdale community that the facility could be located there. Mr Woolley said: “The anti-nuclears seem to have commandeered the whole situation, convincing people that this will be the final decision, which is not the case.”

Councillors reported having been “bombarded” with emails from people in all parts of the country urging the council against moving to stage four.


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