CALLS to the county council chief to participate in nuclear waste talks were rejected on the basis that a planned underground facility would result in "the loss of thousands of well paid jobs."

At the cabinet meeting on Thursday, Cumbria County Council's leader Stewart Young was asked to consider reversing the decision not to participate in the Copeland GDF Community Partnership.

A Community Partnership is tasked with discussing the possibility of hosting a GDF (Geological Disposal Facility) with residents of the area.

An underground nuclear waste facility is being discussed for the Gosforth, Seascale and Beckermet area by the Mid Copeland GDF Community Partnership.

The South Copeland GDF Community Partnership has formed to discuss the possibility of hosting a GDF in Millom.

Copeland Council agreed to join the partnerships along with Cumbria Association of Local Councils and Radioactive Waste Management, releasing £1 million a year in investment for each area.

The county council decided not to take part in talks on the underground storage of nuclear waste in 2021 and during a previous process in 2013.

Millom councillor Keith Hitchen gave a speech to cabinet, calling for a reversal of the decision allowing the area to fully reap the rewards of community investment.

Cllr Hitchen said: "I believe it's important we don't lose sight, with what we have to do in the next 16 months, that we still have to represent the views and opinions of our local communities.

"We have projects going on that I'm sure would benefit from a share of that million pounds."

"Here we have an opportunity to actually give guidance to that partnership on where some of those funds could be invested."

But the leader said: "The huge concern about which you should be concerned, Copeland Council should be concerned and indeed the residents is that if this goes ahead and the waste from Sellafield is transferred to a GDF, that will lead to the loss of thousands of well paid jobs at Sellafield.

"Because Sellafield exists to look after the waste legacy of the nuclear industry. I for one couldn't support what would destroy the economy in that part of West Cumbria."

Cllr Young said GDF would also have "profound" financial implications for the councils: "As buildings were taken down as part of the ongoing work programme, the company has been required to apply for a review of their business rates and as that process continues and buildings get dismantled, they will continue to do that.

"Copeland lost £13 million as a result of that last review, the county council lost £4 million."

A spokesperson for Radioactive Waste Management said: “Cumbria County Council has been invited to join all GDF Community Partnerships in Cumbria and that invitation remains open.

“A GDF will generate many thousands of jobs over its 100-plus year lifetime, both at the facility and in the wider supply chain, as well as a range of contract opportunities for businesses.

“There will continue to be thousands of jobs at Sellafield for the foreseeable future: clean-up and remediation of the site will take at least another 100 years. The site plans also take full account of a GDF being developed.”