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Search for an underground radioactive store is over, says council leader

Allerdale's council leader has admitted that the current process to search for an underground nuclear waste storage site in West Cumbria is “dead in the water”.

Councillor Alan Smith was speaking after he and other senior West Cumbrian politicians met energy minister Baroness Verma and energy secretary Ed Davey.

Coun Smith joined Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham, Copeland council leader Elaine Woodburn and Copeland MP Jamie Reed in a meeting with Mr Davey and Baroness Verma on Tuesday.

The executives of both district councils voted last month to continue with the process to find a higher level nuclear waste storage site, despite a veto on the proposal by Cumbria County Council as the strategic planning body.

Councillors Smith and Woodburn set up the meeting with the energy department.

But Coun Smith last night admitted that the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership was “dead in the water”.

He said: “We’ve drawn a line under that process for West Cumbria. It’s dead in the water for the area and the Government will look somewhere else.

“We have spoken to Mr Davey and Baroness Verma will continue to talk to the Government about what went right and wrong with the process.

“That doesn’t mean we can bury our heads in the sand and think we no longer have anything to do with it.

“The waste is here and needs to be dealt with.”

He said that he and Councillor Woodburn made it clear to Mr Davey that they weren’t lobbying the Government to include West Cumbria in the next stage of the MRWS process.

He said they requested an inventory of the waste, currently stored above ground at Sellafield, before any next step was taken.

“If there’s a high proportion of waste from across the UK or Europe, which we believe there is, then it becomes a UK issue, not just a Cumbrian one and the rest of the country has to step up and play its part,” he said.

He added: “It’s no good saying ‘this process is over, we don’t have to think about it’. This waste has been an issue for 50-plus years, and not been dealt with by successive governments.

“It can’t go on being swept under the carpet for our children’s children to deal with.”

Coun Smith said there was no reason why Cumbria could not get involved with future consultations but he would want to see evidence that the county was geoligically suitable.

Councillor Smith told Mr Davey that any decision about the waste should be made within months, rather than years.

He added: “I’d personally like to see a resolution to this in 12 months or so. It’s no good going on for years. There needs to be less red tape.”

A spokesman for Baroness Verma refused to rule out a new process to find a site for the dump which would allow Copeland and Allerdale councils to remain as possible candidates.

He said: “Currently they can’t re-enter the process, but I can’t pre-empt what the way forward will be.”

He said any new process would only be introduced after public consultation.

Have your say

Let us now hope thatCentrL Government will strata true and open process where they search for the safest sites around the whole country and then ask for volunteers to host the high level nuclear waste that currently hangs over everyone's future in the north of England

Posted by Jaffa on 15 February 2013 at 21:54

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