For the attention of Baroness Worthington
Dear Baroness Worthington,
I understand that on Wednesday the House of Lords under the Chair of Baroness Verma will be discussing the plan to push through legislation that will remove our right, and the statutory right of Cumbria County Council, to object to burying radioactive waste underground.
The government, and DECC in particular, hope to do this as soon as practically possible by adding GDFs (Geological Disposal Facilities) to the list of NSIPs (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects). An NSIP would force through the what we believe to be the government’s plans to return, yet again, to Cumbria in the search for a site for a GDF – a massive undertaking, several times larger than the Channel tunnel and which would blight the county and the LDNP/Tourism for decades to come. Such a policy would, of course, effectively deny communities the voice usually afforded to them via public planning enquiries and, not least, the opportunity to express opposition through their elected representatives on the county council which, as you will be aware, has statutory, overall responsibility for waste disposal.
The government hoped the nuclear waste ‘problem’ was going to be solved by communities coming forward to volunteer to take the waste; now that plan has fallen by the wayside the government wishes to impose it on us by designating the GDF as a NSIP. The hard-won protections of planning permissions, listed building consent, scheduled monument consent and conservation area consent amongst others are not required for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. This total lack of scrutiny will escalate should Geological Disposal Facilities be added to the already undemocratic NSIP legislation.
We hold a firm belief that it is fundamentally wrong to remove the county councils from the equation, and to even consider siting a GDF in a place where the geology is irrefutably unsuitable. We also feel very strongly that the meeting on Wednesday is key to preventing further the government’s erosion of our hard-won local democracy. Thank you.
Retired Leader of Cumbria County Council.