LEADING councillors in Allerdale are calling for the Government to be clear on its energy and nuclear policy as plans for a underground nuclear waste store are revived.

Members of Allerdale council’s executive committee made the comments at a meeting on Friday when considering an official response to a consultation launched by Radioactive Waste Management – an organisation established by the Government to plan and deliver the nuclear waste store.

The consultation is about the process the Government’s organisation intends to follow to identify a site for the multi-million Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). But Labour councillors sitting on the executive, said the Government needed to be clear about what its plans are for the future of energy and nuclear in the country.

Allerdale council was a key partner in the former Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process and the council has been working with other local authorities under the umbrella of NuLeAF since that last process came to an end.

The plans caused huge controversy in West Cumbria when first mooted, before being rejected by Cumbria County Council in 2013.

Councillor Mike Heaslip said: “It’s right that we should use our expertise. I was involved in the previous process, we spent an awful lot of time, blood, sweat and tears to try to work out what the process was. Lessons have been learnt from that and those need to be communicated. I’m not entirely clear that they are listening to the message we have been giving them from this council.

“I take it the process is about a consultation, about a process of finding a site in an area that isn’t West Cumbria. If anywhere in West Cumbria was to be considered, this process is inadequate.”

He added: “We need to look at the bigger picture and we have no indication from the Government that they’re willing to engage with us on this. There isn’t an energy policy or a nuclear policy in the UK. We need a far bigger conversation.”

The response agreed by the committee said: “On the basis of our MRWS experience alone, the argument that all communities are equal falls down and yet, six years later, you have launched a new process that pretends the UK is starting with a blank piece of paper. We believe that what is needed is a more strategic discussion around all the nuclear related challenges the UK is facing, how those challenges might impact on Sellafield and the Low Level Waste Repository and how we might secure the maximum benefit for this community going forward. We remain disappointed, not to mention confused, that such a discussion is not supported by those responsible within Government and the nuclear industry.”

Councillor Mark Fryer, deputy leader of the council, told members they should be aware of predetermination. His comments were echoed by independent councillor Bill Jefferson, who said: “It’s very easy to exclude ourselves if we predetermine this. We simply need to decide if we’re keeping a seat at the table - that’s what it’s all about.”

Councillors unanimously agreed to submit the proposed response.