Executive members of the council have voted to be "at the discussion table" when it comes to geological disposal of nuclear waste in Allerdale.

Allerdale Borough Council's Executive met on Wednesday to decide whether the authority should participate in a Community Partnership.

A Community Partnership formed between the council and Radioactive Waste Management would consider the possibility of siting a geological disposal facility in Allerdale.

The partnership's work would involve consulting the public on GDF and what it means for the people of Allerdale.

Executive members were unanimously in favour of joining a Community Partnership but promised to take into account a petition signed by almost a third of the Gilcrux parish - which is within the Search Area.

Patrick Gorrill, Allerdale councillor for Ellen and Gilcrux, presented the petition to council bosses on behalf of residents in the areas as well as those of Bullgill.

He said: "Since I was elected, the topic that's filled my inbox the most and made my phone ring more than any other has been the GDF, especially since the Search Area was announced."

Search Areas are identified by electoral ward boundaries for closer inspection in the siting process. In Allerdale, the areas being discussed for the potential safe and secure storage of higher level radioactive waste are: Aspatria; Broughton St Bridgets; Dalton; Ellen & Gilcrux; Flimby; Harrington & Salterbeck; Maryport North; Maryport South; Moorclose & Moss Bay; Seaton & Northside; St John’s; St Michael’s and Stainburn & Clifton.

An inshore area of up to 22.2 kilometre off the coast is also proposed.

Cllr Gorrill said: "The residents of the councils are concerned that once they're identified as part of the willing area for Allerdale, they won't be able to pull out of that. As a result of those concerns Gilcrux Parish Council has asked me to put forward a petition."

The leader of the council Mike Johnson and members of his executive spoke in favour of joining the Community Partnership.

Joining the partnership does not necessarily mean that a nuclear waste facility will be built in Allerdale, just that council bosses are keen to hear all of the information and consult with the public on the GDF as a possibility.

The leader said: "GDF is undoubtedly a potential answer to the long term storage of nuclear waste but it's by no means the only option available. It's a complex problem and it requires a complex solution, it's also a decision that will impact on the lives of many people for generations to come it needs to be debated properly with all of the options being fully explored."

Councillor Alan Pitcher said: "Nuclear waste is here now, it will always be here and something has to happen to it. It's not going to go away and if we sit here and don't discuss what's going to happen to it, it will still be there and we need to do something about it.

"To do this we need to be there at the discussion table and we need to understand all aspects of the GDF and how RWM would be prepared to control it safely."