We were surprised to read in a Whitehaven News article, that the Copeland councillor, David Moore, who is responsible for the borough’s position on nuclear matters, appears not to have understood how the new search process for a site to bury the nation’s nuclear waste will work. He states:
“They [landowners] are obliged at some point to ask for local authority support, but they can still take it forward without local authority support”
In fact that is not correct. Landowners can form a Working Group to have initial discussions without a relevant principal local authority, but they cannot form a Community Partnership without one, and therefore the process will be halted at an early stage without local authority support. The Working with Communities framework published in December 2018 states:
“In order for the Community Partnership to form and operate, at least one relevant principal local authority must agree to participate.”
In addition, what David Moore fails to mention is that while a landowner, or a parish council can volunteer for the process, once the relevant local authority has joined, the landowner or parish becomes powerless to withdraw. The right of withdrawal rests solely with the relevant principal local authority:
“The decision on whether to withdraw the community will be taken by the relevant principal local authority, or authorities where there is more than one, on the Community Partnership. Where there is more than one relevant principal local authority on the Community Partnership, all must agree; no single relevant principal local authority will be able to unilaterally invoke the Right of Withdrawal.”
In other words, what may begin as a voluntary process for the landowner or parish, quickly becomes a trap. This is a deeply cynical approach – a process which is easy to join, but difficult or even impossible for them to leave.