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Nuclear waste store search gains Cumbrian public's backing

A new survey shows Cumbrians want a search to be carried out to find a suitable site for burying highly radioactive nuclear waste in the west of the county.

The results of a MORI opinion poll disclosed today show that in the survey more people than not were in favour of looking for a repository site.

Copeland showed most support - 68 per cent. In Allerdale 51 per cent said yes.

And in the rest of Cumbria, 50 per cent of those polled said they supported Copeland and Allerdale district councils taking part in the deep repository search.

More than 3,000 gave their views in what MORI call a large representative survey on behalf of the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership.

In Copeland, 23 per cent were opposed, 4 per cent said they were neutral and another five per cent said they did not know.

In Allerdale, 37 per cent were opposed, four per cent neutral and eight per cent did not know.

Over the rest of Cumbria, 35 per cent were opposed, five per cent opposed and 10 per cent did not know.

It will be left to the local authorities - Copeland, Allerdale and Cumbria - to make a final decision on whether to go ahead with the search. This is expected in October or November.

The partnership says it was particularly keen to find out whether people in the Allerdale and Copeland areas were in favour or opposed to taking part in the search for a site, as this is where a repository could be located. But the government has given an assurance a repository would be put only where the geology was suitable and where a community volunteered to have it.

If the area does decide to participate in this process, there would be extensive testing of geology and other factors. It could take around 15 years to find out if there is a suitable site. Local people would also continue to be involved and the councils would have the right to withdraw while this work is taking place.

Coun Tim Knowles, the current chairman of the partnership and the Cabinet member for the environment on Cumbria County Council, said: “We would like to thank people for taking part in this important opinion survey. We have always made it clear that the views of local people are extremely important in this process.

“Partnership members will now need to consider the results of this survey alongside the responses to the separate consultation which we have carried out. A final report will then be sent to the councils who will make the decision about whether to take part in the search for a site.”

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative cross-section of the local population in Allerdale (over 1,000 people), in Copeland (over 1,000 people) and in the rest of Cumbria (over 1,000 people) by telephone between March 8 and May 16 this year.

As well as commissioning MORI to conduct the representative survey, the partnership also commissioned two independent experts on polling to provide additional advice on the survey and the methodology for carrying it out.

The partnership expects to produce a final report this summer. This will then be sent to the three local authorities that will make a formal decision about whether to take part in the search for a site – Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council.

A representative poll was used rather than a referendum because the partnership concluded that at this stage not enough information is known about where a repository may be sited. If the area was to participate in the search, it is possible that a referendum could be held at a later stage when more information is available.

The partnership is made up of representatives of all the local authorities in the county as well as organisations such as the National Farmers’ Union, Cumbria Tourism, the Lake District National Park Authority and the Cumbria Association of Local Councils.

It has spent over three years gathering information, commissioning research and asking questions in order to find out more about what taking part in the search for site would mean for the area.

Have your say

The only thing that should matter regarding the underground waste store is the geology. If the geology in west cumbria is found to meet the specifications then why not have it? it will be a lot safer than where it is now above ground at Sellafield. If the geology is found to be unacceptable then at least we will know and be able to start looking elswhere. It is not really an option to leave it above ground for the next few tens of thousands of years so the store must be built somewhere.

Posted by Joe on 28 May 2012 at 21:02

I agree with me, might aswell take the cash for a hole in the ground, put enough concrete over it and itll be reet, we will probly have nuked ourselves out of existance by the time this stuff would ever be a problem anyway!

Posted by Tony on 28 May 2012 at 12:12

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