Firstly, Cumbria Trust notes that the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) has decided to hold a public meeting* regarding geological nuclear waste disposal in Workington, Cumbria on 30th April 2014.
Secondly, that of all the locations in the Country which could have been chosen for such a meeting, CoRWM has chosen West Cumbria.
Thirdly, that this follows recent assurances from DECC ministers that the new process would be a truly national process following the Cumbrian MRWS process coming to an end last year.
Fourthly, that no other such meetings appear to have been announced by CoRWM.
Fifthly, that the new White Paper is likely to be published in the summer of 14.
Cumbria Trust expects that the Government will ignore the results of its own and last consultation and proceed in the White Paper to exclude County Councils from the decision making process; namely ignore, having asked for views, that the majority of respondents rejected this apparent “gerrymandering”.
The Government has recent “history” having previously ignored calls from the majority of respondents (59%) to an earlier consultation in 2013 advocating that the process concentrate on geology and safety first by way of proceeding with a national geological survey to find best and safest locations.
Instead Government based its main policy change on County Council exclusion. The latter approach being “justified” by the views of one or two respondents (out of many hundreds); including Copeland Borough Council whose decision to proceed had been vetoed by Cumbria County Council in Jan 13.
Eddie Martin, former leader of Cumbria County Council which took the decision to say “No” in 2013 and now a director of Cumbria Trust said:
“Whilst we very much welcome public meetings and debate, we are very concerned about issues of predetermination in this respect and find it strange indeed that CoRWM have organised one of three such meetings for West Cumbria.
Especially so given the Government’s previously binding and unequivocal assurances that the Managing Radioactive Waste process would not proceed in West Cumbria if the County Council, districts/boroughs and Central Government did not agree, the so called “Three Green Lights” agreement.”
John Wilson, a local lawyer and director of Cumbria Trust added:
“I remain convinced that we are on the receiving end of a disingenuous and highly disturbing gerrymandering exercise. The Government appears to be prepared to do anything to get its way including tearing up previous agreements and policies and usurping our democratic processes and also ignoring safety.”
Geoff Betsworth another Cumbria Trust director said:
“It seems entirely self-evident, and an inconvenient truth for Government, the appropriate level of local and competent decision making in this regard is the County level.
This follows similar localism or subsidiarity in France, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden where, contrary to the line being taken by DECC, decision making is with their equivalents of County Councils.
Some of our district councils in Cumbria are struggling to run even the most basic and simple services such as public toilets properly, so how can they be competent to take such huge and complex decisions?”
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Read: Minister of State Charles Hendry’s letter to Eddie Martin (Cumbria County Council), Alan Smith (Allerdale Borough Council) and Elaine Woodburn (Copeland Borough Council). as a downloadable pdf doc
Read: Baroness Verma’s response to “issues raised” by Alan Smith as a downloadable pdf doc