Let’s hope that our town and parish councillors are aware that Allerdale BC is inviting them to discuss the council’s policy towards geological disposal of nuclear waste in the Borough at a meeting on Thursday 11th July at Cockermouth Town Hall. Allerdale’s Nuclear Policy manager, Richard Griffin, will discuss the latest consultation and how Allerdale is positioning itself for the new search process. We would hope that representatives from our Town Council will be attending this meeting and, as a concerned citizens and directors of Cumbria Trust, we will naturally be hoping that Allerdale does not volunteer itself as a potential site for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).
Lessons should be learnt from the previous MRWS process and the Government’s subsequent actions following Cumbria County Council’s refusal in 2013 to proceed onto stage 4 of the process. The Government is desperate to find a site for a GDF and would ideally like it to be as close to Sellafield as possible, hence the attraction of both Allerdale and Copeland despite it being known that the geology in both boroughs is highly unlikely to be suitable for the construction of a safe GDF. This is so important considering that some of the waste will remain dangerous for over 100,000 years. We owe it to future generations to deal with this waste properly and not be seduced by any short term financial inducements on offer.
CCC will not be able to exercise the Right of Withdrawal, as it did in 2013, or request a Test of Public Support without agreement from other principal local authorities – in short, if Allerdale and or Copeland wish the process to continue, there is nothing CCC can do about it. Also it will be for the Potential Host Community, through a Test of Public Support, to ultimately make the decision whether it is willing to host a GDF rather than it being left up to the principal local authorities (in our case Allerdale). Under the proposals Potential Host Communities will be restricted to those directly impacted by the construction of a GDF or those along the route from the GDF to the nearest main road or port. Neighbouring communities, that may be blighted through the existence of the GDF, will have no involvement in any test of public support. Once a community has agreed to host a GDF through a Test of Public Support it loses its Right of Withdrawal.
The Government does not propose to allow Tests of Public Support to be carried out until all information has been gathered on the basis that Potential Host Communities should be fully informed before making their decision. Whilst this may sound commendable the reality is that in areas, such as the Lake District, prolonged potentially environmentally and economically damaging surveying work will be required to establish whether possible sites exist. This could take up to 20 years and from past experience the chances of finding any genuinely suitable sites are very low.
As GDFs and any associated investigative boreholes are classified as being Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) the final decision whether to proceed could end up in the hands of the Secretary of State.