“Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.” ~ Virgil
A year ago, and despite DECC’s enticements of community benefits, high-value jobs, and the Right to Withdraw, we did not let in the government’s Trojan horse. As Leader of the County Council (at that time) I spent many, many hours researching the whys and wherefores of an underground waste repository (a GDF) here in West Cumbria. The more I researched the more and more convinced I became that West Cumbria simply was not the right location. However, in order to neutralise the opposition DECC proposes, in future discussions, to largely ignore the county council; it will no longer be among the decision makers. Thus, at a stroke, the government will successfully disenfranchise tens of thousands of Cumbrian people.
Trust? What trust? This is not the fictional totalitarianism of Orwell’s 1984 Oceania. It is today’s government thinking. After losing in the court of public opinion this proposal is surely an affront to democracy!
Adding weight to my conclusions, it is interesting that no government geologist (or DECC) has ever rebutted the geological argument that West Cumbria is too fractured, faulty and fissured to host a GDF a thousand metres below the surface in an underground site estimated to be as big as Carlisle. It is interesting also that at least one local, prominent politician who vehemently opposed the decision to reject a GDF has since publicly admitted that the decision to reject Stage 4 was correct.
There are those, however, who continue to insist we should explore and investigate Cumbria’s geology … just in case. Often they dismiss our concerns in a cavalier manner and attempt to ridicule those concerns. If that is the extent of their erudition, so be it. But the immediate and urgent priority is to make safe the “significant risks to people and the environment” (National Audit Office) which exist at Sellafield where millions of pounds have been wasted and 12 of 14 targets have been missed. Such ineptitude had nothing to do with the current workforce; it has everything to do with the government’s nuclear and energy departments. So before the government starts digging a GDF, it should ensure that surface or near surface safety at Sellafield is sorted once and for all. (For more detail read the Friends of the Earth report: “Towards a Safer Cumbria”).
This is not scaremongering, as some would claim, but the opinions and conclusions of Members of the Public Accounts Committee (Sellafield presents an “intolerable risk”) and the National Audit Office. Would you really trust the same nuclear organisations and people to commission the excavation of a GDF and bury materials that will be radioactive for thousands of years when, after many years and vast quantities of public money, government and Sellafield – arguably the sixth most radioactive site in the world – have spectacularly failed to get to grips with the nuclear waste already on site?
That is why we need your support and the support of your friends and relatives: to oppose the government’s madcap scheme to bury hundreds of tonnes of highly toxic nuclear waste deep within the Cumbrian earth for, I continue to believe, DECC still has its sights firmly fixed on Cumbria. Best wishes.
Cumbria Trust Chairman