The Nuclear Industry Association has welcomed the launch of new consultations on finding a site to store the UK’s radioactive waste.

The government has launched a consultation on the planning process needed to deliver a geological disposal facility (GDF) for nuclear waste, and a second on how it will engage with communities in areas of the UK that may be interested in hosting it.

Copeland has previously put itself forward as a host community for GDF, but the process came to an abrupt halt in January 2013 when Cumbria County Council voted not to proceed.

The new search for a site is expected to begin this year, after the results of the two 12-week consultations have been digested and formal processes agreed by ministers.

Planning consent will only be given to sites which have local support, the government has confirmed.

The reassurance was welcomed by the NIA’s chief executive Tom Greatrex.

He echoed the belief that geological disposal was the best way forward for the long-term safe and secure management of waste – whether that is existing waste currently stored at Sellafield, or waste from new nuclear power stations, which could include the Moorside development in West Cumbria.

“These consultations will provide much greater clarity on the key issues of underground storage, and effective community engagement,” he said.

“It will place the community at the centre of the process, as well as delivering the long-term job creation such a facility will bring.”

The government says GDF will create 2,000 well-paid, skilled jobs and generate at least £8 billion for the UK economy over the lifetime of the facility.

Meanwhile, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership said it would be discussing the issue at Board level in the near future.

Cumbria LEP Director Graham Haywood, said: “Given that the county has already been through the geological disposal facility process before, we will need to fully digest the process for consultation this time around, and the ramifications for the potential participation of local communities and the impact on those around them.

“We will be discussing the consultation process at board level in due course, as well as consulting with partners and stakeholders to garner their views. We expect that the LEP would be a key consultee in the process if plans for a geological disposal facility move forward.”