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West Cumbria faces the biggest decision in its history

MARYPORT will take centre stage on Wednesday as West Cumbria faces the biggest decision in its recent history.

SAY NO: Nuclear store protesters Anne Lathan, left, and Kath Ostell, from Silloth

The Wave Centre will host a meeting where Allerdale council will decide whether it wants to be involved in the further search for a site for an underground nuclear waste store.

Dozens of protesters are expected to turn out at the 3pm meeting, which will follow a similar county council meeting in Carlisle at 10am.

Describing the meeting as “landmark”, Allerdale council leader Alan Smith said: “West Cumbria is standing on the brink of the most important decision in its history. January 30 is an important day for the area and one that will be talked about for years to come.”

Meanwhile, the Government said it had no intention of railroading West Cumbria into hosting a nuclear waste store.

Hundreds of people have written to Allerdale council, Cumbria County Council and Copeland council both opposing and supporting the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership, which could see a high-level nuclear waste repository bigger in size than Workington built below ground.

Protest groups have been formed, including Solway Plain Against Nuclear Dump (Spand), which fears that the Silloth area could be in the running as a potential site.

Allerdale council’s seven-person executive will vote on Wednesday on whether they want to move to the next stage of the project. The same vote will be taken by the 10-strong county council cabinet, led by Dearham and Broughton councillor Eddie Martin.

For Allerdale to stay in the process, both councils must agree and receive Government backing.

Both meetings had been due to take place at 10am, along with a similar gathering in Copeland. But Allerdale council has now opted to change its time to allow people to attend both sessions.

A council spokesman said that members would “debate the issues and make up their own minds without influences”.

But the council could not confirm what would happen at the Allerdale meeting if the county council had already recorded a ‘no’ vote, which would automatically bring the process to an end for the borough.

Spand members will be out in force at the meetings. They will present a petition of more than 3,600 signatures to Silloth county councillor Tony Markley, on behalf of the county cabinet, tomorrow. A copy of the petition will be handed to Allerdale’s executive on Wednesday.

Sixteen people had already registered to ask questions at the county council meeting by the time its agenda was published on Tuesday.

Petitions are due to be presented by Radiation Free Lakeland and a group of West Cumbria residents.

Allerdale and Copeland Green Party plans to attend all three meetings and Jill Perry, of Bullgill, will put a question to Allerdale councillors.

Representation is also expected from Friends of the Earth and other campaigners.

The three councils have been exploring the possibility of West Cumbria hosting a deep geological store for nuclear waste since 2008. Then they were the only councils in the country to express an interest in hosting a repository.

The Government had said from the outset that the councils could pull out of the six-stage process at any point before construction but the pledge did not have legal backing. The Department for Energy and Climate Change has now committed to bring forward proposals for new legislation within 18 months of any decision to participate in the search for a site.

People wanting to speak at the meetings had to register by Friday.

l See this week's Times & Star for a two-page feature special

Have your say

I am delighted that the County Council have refused permission, as this affects the whole population of Cumbria and not just the Copeland area. This is a legacy that would last tens of thousands of years. Our descendants would pay the price should there be a leakage in the future.

Posted by Vince Glynn on 30 January 2013 at 19:04

The right decision has been made. West Cumbrians need to protect this decision from the greedy copeland councillors who are only interested in the money and not the long term picture for the whole county. West Cumbria needs to stop relying on Sellafield for employment and encourage other businesses into the area. This nuclear waste dump would be a disaster for the tourist industy in Cumbria which brings in billions.

Posted by claudia on 30 January 2013 at 18:24

View all 5 comments on this article

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