PROGRESS is being made in the search for a suitable site to store nuclear waste from Sellafield.

Members of the West Cumbria Sites Stakeholder Group received a number of updates on high level nuclear waste storage at a meeting at Cleator Moor Civic Hall on Tuesday (February 6).

Gillian Elliott, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's stakeholder lead for Cumbria, told members that last month it was announced that another community had expressed an interest in hosting a geological disposal facility (GDF).

Members heard that there would be financial benefits to the successful host community and those currently in the running were: mid and south Copeland, Lincolnshire and the newly announced South Holderness.

Martin Walkingshaw, the chief operating officer at Nuclear Waste Services, told members that in September it was announced that Allerdale would be exiting the siting process and that would be concluded by the end of March.

He said a working group had been launched for South Holderness, which is in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and there had been what he referred to as a "useful intervention" from the regulator. "I am confident that we will meet the deadlines," he added.

When asked why Allerdale had been removed from the process he said there were certain criteria that had been set and added: "There were a number of factors."

He said these included the type and volume of rock in the area which had made it an unsuitable site for a GDF. He added: "We could not carry on with Allerdale."

Mr Walkingshaw said initial aerial marine surveys had started in the two Copeland areas and they were set to run until March.

He said the surveys involved manned aircraft filming the area looking for things such as migratory bird species.

Mr Walkingshaw said the chosen community would benefit from £100s of millions of investments to benefit the area. He said: "The Government isn't messing about with this."

He said the process was "consent based" and it needed the support of the local community. He added: "The public support for a GDF is much higher in mid and south Copeland."

When asked about the cost and the timescale for the GDF he said it was in the region of £50 billion and it was expected to be complete by the 2050s. He added: "It's an expensive project."