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Cumbria to get second chance to host underground nuclear store

The Government is clearing the way for west Cumbria to again bid to host an underground nuclear dump.

Jamie Reed photo
Jamie Reed

Just seven months after senior councillors quashed contentious plans, the area is to be given a second chance to revive the project, the News & Star can reveal.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change is expected to announce tomorrow the launch of a new national consultation process.

The News & Star understands that any area interested in putting its name forward can do so – meaning that Copeland and Allerdale councils can once again look into the possibility.

The decision is certain to infuriate anti-dump protestors who in January were jubilant that they had won majority support within Cumbria County Council’s ruling cabinet.

But pro-nuclear campaigners across west Cumbria will be delighted. Copeland MP Jamie Reed and the area’s council leader Elaine Woodburn have consistently argued that the nuclear industry’s legacy of waste - much of it stored at Sellafield - can no longer be ignored.

West Cumbria’s two local authorities were the only councils in the country to express an interest in hosting an underground repository and voted to continue the search for a potential site.

Even though the two authorities were in favour of moving onto the next stage, they needed county council backing.

After the county council voted to pull out of the process, then council leader Eddie Martin said the case for not continuing the search for a site in Cumbria had been “overwhelming”, given the many uncertainties of the plan.

He said at the time: “We had literally thousands of emails, letters, and telephone calls.

“There were arguments both ways but they were roughly about 20-1 against going forward.”

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart said safety - particularly finding a site with suitable geology - and finding a local community willing to host the facility were the two key factors.

But campaigners in west Cumbria, including Mr Reed, have remained determined to press home their case for continuing the search for a repository in the area.

The MP and Allerdale and Copeland council leaders wrote to Energy Secretary Ed Davey, seeking a meeting about atomic waste storage. The Government confirmed there was no reason why Allerdale and Copeland could not re-volunteer for the repository process but any change in the selection procedure would have to follow national consultation.

Since the search for a repository was halted, the Government has been looking at what lessons can be learned from the failure of the £3m process.

Over the past few months the Government has been collecting evidence from those involved and is expected to reveal its findings tomorrow with details of a fresh consultation.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change refused to give any details about the announcement, other than saying that it would involve the whole of the UK.

A spokesman for Copeland council said the authority was not able to comment until the official announcement had been made.

The Government promised any community that hosted the site a “substantial” benefits package worth hundreds of millions of pounds, as well as hundreds of jobs and major investment that such a “huge infrastructure project” could bring.

Around 70 per cent of the UK’s higher-level waste is stored at Sellafield.

Have your say

To clarify, everyone who's said Cumbria's geology is unsuitable is working on a third-hand assumption. It MAY be unsuitable. All we currently know about our geology pertains to a few scattered locations about the county, and nowhere near deep enough to give us any information relevant to this proposed facility. At this point in time, all that's being asked is that we're able to find out more about our area's geology. That would leave us with one of two scenarios; either the geology is proven to be unsuitable and we have more information about our county that wasn't previously unavailable, or a structurally safe area is found and the geology argument is put to bed. Everyone should be in favour of this, regardless of which camp you fall into regarding nuclear waste.

Posted by N.Kendall on 24 September 2013 at 01:37

Sellafield union reps (and ex union reps who join the staff 2 years before retirement): how many on Copeland council, how many on the executive? You as members of the voters in Copeland have no say in anything.
Wake up, you as voters have no say whatsoever.
Representation in Copeland is at an all time low. 'We're all in this together' in Copeland means that whether you vote Conservative or Labour is of no consequence whatsoever. Why? Both parties pay lip service to the voters because of personal gain. There is no such thing as council 'expenses' because the personal gains of councillors are taxable therefore they are paid positions.
Look at who is on the council, either retired from their days jobs or shortly coming up for retirement from their day jobs. Look at how many councillors are also on the executive and, on the county council. These three lots of expenses paid for by you equate to in excess of 20k GBP per year.
How many local councillors have stood up to be counted and objected to, for instance, the closing of the market place public toilets? You are not being represented by these people.
Do the research.
However, do not despair. Change is at hand, where representation is of your choosing. Your vote, your choice, your voice.

Posted by Observer on 22 September 2013 at 19:06

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