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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Real fears have to be addressed

January is likely to be a watershed month for Cumbria. Decisions with potential to redefine the county’s national profile and importance will be made this month.

Councillors will decide whether to pinpoint a potential site for underground storage of nuclear waste somewhere in west Cumbria.

Despite official denials that no site has yet been identified, feelings are running high across the county that the area’s rock formations might be unsuitable for burial of radioactive material.

Fears that the county may be drifting into a dangerous trap, tempted by promises of jobs, prosperity and the lifting of a struggling region into wealth, are real – and as yet unallayed.

Now Lord Hutton, a former Cumbrian MP and chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association has added his voice to the debate, cautioning against the pitfalls of scaremongering and reiterating the benefits available to Cumbrians, should a repository be accepted.

He rightly points out that all available benefits should be grasped by those most closely involved in the generation of nuclear energy, while identifying west Cumbria as a centre of nuclear excellence.

His logic is undeniable – but so are worries at the forefront of the minds of local people.

Until they can be calmed, a race for the financial advantages of making Cumbria a radioactive burial ground could only be divisive in a community renowned for its cohesion.

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