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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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Worries nuclear repository decision delay may not be long enough

A delay in deciding whether Cumbria should remain in the running to house a new nuclear dump may still not be long enough.

Keith Hitchen photo
Keith Hitchen

Allerdale, Copeland and Cumbria County councils this week said that to defer until January a decision about if they should allow detailed studies and investigations about potential locations to take place.

The organisation that represents town and parish councils in Cumbria is one of the opponents to the scheme, arguing the prospects of finding a suitable site did not justify the search.

Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC) has welcomed holding off committing to the next stage of the search as clarity is sought from the Department for Energy and Climate Change on a string of issues.

Chairman Keith Hitchen said: “We asked the three councils to defer a decision until more information was available about west Cumbria’s geology and other issues and we are pleased they have announced that there will be a delay until these important matters have received more attention.

“I, however, doubt that the proposed three months delay will give sufficient time to clarify all the matters of concern.”

Among the issues the councils are seeking clarity on are the right to withdraw from the process and clarification on a package of “community benefits”.

They said they needed to take full account of a report from The West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership. This said “a lack of trust appears to us to be at the root of many of the key concerns”.

Mr Hitchen said: “It is important that over the next few months more issues of trust – between potential host communities for a repository in west Cumbria and the three councils as the formal Decision Making Bodies – are also addressed.”

County council leader Eddie Martin said: “The Government has always made it clear that, if necessary, the process can be paused while we seek clarification.

“We’re at that stage now and the next three months will involve all three councils working closely with the Government to get to a position where a decision can be made.”

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