The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has just published its report which examined the Draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for geological disposal. This NPS is a document which considers some of the issues of critical importance which will decide how the search process will take place, and whether designated areas such as National Parks, AONBs and World Heritage Sites should be excluded. These potential exclusions were of particular relevance to Cumbria Trust since we are fortunate enough to have all three within our beautiful county.
We are very disappointed to discover that the committee has decided to completely ignore the evidence and advice from the Lake District National Park Authority, Cumbria Trust, Friends of the Lake District, Campaign for National Parks and many others by failing to exclude designated areas. Even Nirex understood the significance of these areas some 30 years ago and excluded them from the search area, so the current position has gone backwards from an environmental perspective.
While Cumbria Trust feels that this is a very poorly-judged decision, it is not entirely surprising. Government consultations have tended to be box-ticking exercises in recent years, with a pre-determined outcome in mind. Responses which suit the government position are welcomed and others ignored, even if, as in this case, they are from the key stakeholders. It is nothing more than a sham consultation.
We know from the last abortive search process, Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS), that two of the host rocks identified by the MRWS geologist as potential targets were the Ennerdale Granite which runs from the tip of Buttermere in the north to Nether Wasdale in the south, and the Mercia Mudstone Group between Silloth and Abbeytown. The failure to exclude designated areas in this report should be of particular concern to those places. Cumbria’s most treasured sites are once again under threat.
We are still awaiting the outcome of a second consultation, Working With Communities, but given the conclusions of this first consultation, we would not be surprised if they take the same cynical approach and define communities in such a way that areas can be held hostage by a handful of politicians.
It seems that the battle which took place in 2012-13 is about to begin again in the autumn. Cumbria Trust will be prepared for it.
Download the report as a pdf document HERE
BBC Look North News reported this item (starts at approx 4:40)