Eight years after the last search process was halted, Allerdale finds itself back in the firing line to be the burial site for the UK’s nuclear waste. However this time it isn’t Allerdale which has volunteered itself, but a property developer based in Dalston near Carlisle. He has also volunteered Copeland. The new rules of engagement rather bizarrely allow anyone to volunteer anywhere, even an individual who doesn’t live in the area, or a company can volunteer it.
During the government consultation which created these rules, Cumbria Trust highlighted the risk of making it exceptionally easy to volunteer an area, even if it is against the wishes of the local population. The first test of public support could be up to twenty years later, leaving the threat hanging over the community for that time. Of course the ease with which the process can be started isn’t mirrored by the ease of withdrawing. There the government have chosen a highly prescriptive system.
Previous processes including the last MRWS search have suffered from a breakdown of trust between the public and those running the search process at an early stage. The developer, Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) have promised that this time it will be an open and transparent process. We have our doubts. Cumbria Trust will be meeting with RWM next week and expect to meet the Allerdale Working Group in the near future.
“It is positive to see that the Lake District has been explicitly excluded this time. However, we note that they have failed to exclude the AONB close to Silloth from the search area, despite having been asked that question. During the MRWS process, the Mercia Mudstone rock in the area was highlighted as a potentially suitable formation by a geologist working for the government partnership. This resulted in a great deal of concern in the area and the formation of a strong local opposition group, SPAND. Allerdale’s Working Group should be reminded of the level of opposition they faced last time, and exclude the AONB at the earliest opportunity.”