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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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West Cumbria nuclear store decision may be stalled until 2013

A decision on whether to search for a site for a nuclear dump in west Cumbria may be delayed by three months.

Nuclear dump graphic
Artist's impression of how the underground repository might look

County councillors, together with those from Allerdale and Copeland, are due to meet next month to decide whether to progress with the search.

However, following private talks in London this week, it is understood that the decision may be delayed until January.

The talks are believed to have taken place between the three council leaders and Baroness Verma, of the Department of Energy.

Speaking at a special meeting of Copeland council last night, Egremont Labour councillor Karl Connor confirmed the potential delay.

“This is my understanding but whenever the decision takes place it will be the single biggest decision ever taken in Cumbria,” he said.

“So much rests on the call – yes or no – and the whole economic future of west Cumbria is in the hands of the executive of this council and their counterparts in Allerdale and county.

“The future economic prospects of the workforce of west Cumbria is being decided over the next few months and it is far too significant an issue to play politics with.”

Council leader Elaine Woodburn said 60 per cent of Copeland residents were in favour of starting the search for a nuclear dump, according to a recent independent poll.

She stressed, however, that “if the geology is not right then no repository will be constructed here.”

She said: “If Copeland decides to participate it would not be agreeing to have a repository but to carry on investigations and further discussions.”

Whitehaven Tory councillor Alistair Norwood was adamant that a search had to start. “This is about what Copeland people want – I don’t care about what the people of South Lakes and the rest of Cumbria want,” he said.

“The waste is here at Sellafield and it’s not going to go anywhere else. As a council we must stand firm and go to the next stage because it’s what the people of this area want.”

Sellafield Workers’ Campaign also made an impassioned plea for a desktop geological survey through Egremont councillor and trades union activist Sam Pollen. The campaign is worried that the county council is going to do a U-turn on its official policy.

The majority of councillors spoke in favour of starting a search but were not allowed to take a vote or make a recommendation to Copeland’s executive, which will make its decision either on October 11 or later.

Marianne Birkby, from Radiation Free Lakeland, claimed Copeland’s perception was already undermined by the presence of Sellafield.


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