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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Big turnout at nuclear store meeting

More than 500 people attended a public meeting about the search for a potential underground nuclear waste repository site in West Cumbria.

The Keswick meeting on Friday heard from geologists, local people and representatives of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The big turnout reflected the growing debate around the forthcoming votes on January 30 by Allerdale, Copeland and the county councils on whether they want the Government to continue its search for a West Cumbrian site to build an underground repository for high-level radioactive waste.

Commercial lawyer John Wilson, of Portinscale, urged people to sign petitions – which have so far attracted more than 10,000 signatures – and write to councillors who are set to make the crucial decision.

Geologist Professor David Smythe last year drew on details in Nuclear Decommissioning Authority documents and concluded that two main rock types in West Cumbria could be considered for hosting a repository – the Mercia mudstone under the Solway Plain and the Ennerdale and Eskdale granite in Copeland.

But he warned that the Solway Plain rock was not suitable, and in Copeland a huge industrial project would be needed to assess the rock within the national park.

Geologist Dr Jeremy Dearlove, who previously worked for the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership, told the meeting, held in Keswick School, that he thought both areas had a low chance of being suitable.

Alun Ellis, repository director for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, said no specific sites had yet been identified.

He added: “The community in West Cumbria has decided to embark on this process. It’s not something we need to have a fight about; it’s something we need to have a dialogue about.”

Mr Ellis said a site would not be developed if a safety case could not be drawn up.

Harry Marsland, Keswick marketing expert, said: “The Lake District is the magnet which brings people to Cumbria. As we often feel in Keswick it’s the goose that lays the golden egg for Allerdale. It’s the goose that shouldn’t be killed.”

In 2008, Cumbria’s three councils were the only ones in the country to express an interest in hosting the repository.

They delayed their vote on whether to proceed to stage four, and begin desktop geological analysis, while they sought government assurances on a number of issues. These included putting the area’s right to withdraw from the process on a legal footing.

A straw poll saw nearly everyone in the room say they want West Cumbria to withdraw, with a handful saying they wanted the area to remain involved.

Meanwhile, following a meeting to consider evidence, Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “Following the session and the written submissions received from the witnesses in advance, it is the view of the cross-party group of Cumbrian MPs that the councils should proceed to stage four.

“It will enable the local geology of West Cumbria to be better understood and will ensure that a suitable community benefit package from government is established.”

But Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart and Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, later said the meeting was not a formal evidence session and no formal decision was reached.

Copeland and Allerdale Liberal Democrats have called on the councils to step back from making any decision until all options have been debated openly, concerned that the proposals are being rushed through.

Solway Plain Against Nuclear Dump is holding a music night – Spand Aid – at Silloth Social Club from 8pm tomorrow, aimed at raising campaign funds and galvanising public support.

Radiation Free Lakeland will be in Keswick tomorrow collecting signatures and giving out leaflets.

Members will also hold a Ditch the Dump demonstration at Bowness Bay, Windermere, tomorrow.

  • See this week's Times & Star for our special feature about the underground radioactive store
Have your say

John - Just so you know all the Nuclear Waste is already in Cumbria - stored near to the Sellafield site.
The key is in the title - underground - that’s where it will be stored.
Its amazing that any Cumbrian can complain about this - the nuclear industry supports large parts of Cumbria – paying wages that keep shops, pubs, hotels etc open and in business open, so for any true Cumbrian to complain is very short sighted - we want the money, jobs and road and rail links this industry brings but want someone else to store it – NIMBY??.
I guarantee that what ever you do for a job in Cumbria it will have some kind of reliance on the money from the nuclear industry - including tourism - a lot of money spent in the lakes are locals day tripping - spending the nuclear ££££s.

Posted by Big Col on 28 January 2013 at 12:56

Absolutely speechless that this idea is even being considered. The Lake District is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the
world. To walk and live in it is the nearest I get to any kind of spirituality why would you want hide anything in it as horrific as Nuclear waste. Surely to big a decision to be left to a handful of local councillors…….sign! http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-nuclear-dump-in-the-lake-district

Posted by john walker on 24 January 2013 at 13:04

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