OPINIONS are split on the underground disposal of nuclear waste in Allerdale, a Community Partnership has launched this week to discuss the idea of hosting such a facility in the area.

Allerdale is amongst the areas in talks to potentially host a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) which would store higher level radioactive waste underground and is hailed as the safest and most secure method of disposal.

The Allerdale GDF Working Group recommended a Search Area for consideration in 2021 comprised of 13 electoral wards: 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.

And it was announced this week that a Community Partnership has launched to facilitate more detailed discussions about GDF in those areas.

Mark Jenkinson MP for Workington has welcomed the news as it means the release of £1 million in community investment.

Mr Jenkinson said: "This is great news for the area as we broaden the discussions around geological disposal.

"The launch of the Community Partnership includes £1 million of community investment funding a year. This will include funding to support local initiatives that provide economic development opportunities, enhance the natural and built environment, or improve community wellbeing.

"This is welcome news and I look forward to engaging with the Partnership as conversations around the GDF develop. I will continue to keep my constituents updated with community engagement sessions."

A Community Partnership is formed with the participation of the Local Authority, Radioactive Waste Management as developer and members of the community.

Allerdale Borough Councillor Ian Greaney said: "I just don't feel the process has been done correctly. Something this important, it should be done right. I don't think we should be able to take shortcuts in this process."

The councillor for Maryport North, representing Allerdale Independents, proposed a vote at full council in 2021 to withdraw from the process.

Cllr Greaney's concern is the findings of a desk study in 2010 which concluded that much of the West Cumbrian coastline has unsuitable geology for the facility.

"If you look at the British Geological Survey and the designated Search Area it actually covers 50 per cent of the exclusion zone."

But leader of the council Mike Johnson said that a desk study does not tell you everything you need to know.

"I think we just need to know once and for all whether the geology is suitable or not."

Cllr Greaney said: "I think there's some councillors who would like to see it done sooner rather than later but I think amongst the people of West Cumbria it's split 50/50."