A MAJOR ‘park and ride’ facility for Sellafield workers next to the village of Cleator looks set to be approved next week.

The 600-space carpark is just one of a raft of measures intended to slash commuter traffic on the A595, cut the number of cars on-site and ease pressure on the borough’s road network.

Planning chiefs at Copeland have recommended that the scheme for the former Kangol factory site is given the green light when it goes before the panel on Wednesday.

The plans have been lodged by landowners Newgates Estates Ltd though the carpark would be used by nuclear workers.

Under the proposal, shuttle buses would operate between the facility and Sellafield, picking up and dropping off workers covering the three main working shift patterns.

The facility would also be surrounded by security fencing and lighting, and it is “likely” it would be manned around the clock.

David Moore, executive portfolio-holder for nuclear and corporate services, said that Sellafield was responding to instructions from the Office for Nuclear Regulation to reduce the number of vehicles on site.

He added: “Park and Ride has started in some of the villages and this is really just an extension of that. This will help reduce carbon emissions and it is important both for the site’s security and for evacuations as part of emergency planning. The fewer vehicles on the A595 the more you reduce risk on the roads and it also helps stop people using other roads as rat runs and clogging up villages.

“A reduction in the number of people and vehicles on the site fits in with what Copeland council wants and we believe it is the right thing to do, which is why officers are recommending approval. This is a positive for the site and for the community.”

But Cleator Moor Town council has expressed concerns that the development is “pushing” a Sellafield problem onto their community without any financial renumeration.

The town council has raised numerous concerns about the scheme including the presence of Japanese knotweed and the possible contamination of the river Ehen.

They have also described the number of spaces proposed as “excessive”, claiming that the development would spoil the look of the area and affect tourism.

The town council also believes that approval of the application “may prejudice” existing plans for housing and business pavilions – a claim officers have denied.

Responding to the concerns, planning chiefs said the Environment Agency was satisfied that contamination issues had been addressed in the application and that extensive landscaping would “enhance the appearance” of the carpark.

Following concerns from residents about speeding, Sellafield confirmed that they had issued a request to their workforce to try and influence driving behaviour.

The company has also pledged to keep a “watching brief” on the situation while  traffic calming measures form part of the plans.