Letter to the Editor (Keswick Reminder)
A member of the newly formed Cumbria Trust (www.cumbriatrust.org), which champions our county’s interests, I have just responded to the consultation by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on the Review of the Siting Process for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF), which replaces the failed Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process. As your readers will be aware, the results of the consultation have the potential to affect Cumbria’s safety and security for thousands of years, so it’s really important for as many people as possible to express their views (go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/geological-disposal-facility-siting-process-review). Those who have not yet had the chance to read the consultation document might find it useful to glance through the summary below to get an idea of the issues raised. Further information can be found on Cumbria Trust’s website. Pease respond if you can: the consultation closes on December 5th.
1 Testing public support
Any test of public support would have to be open, transparent and independent.
The consultees should be drawn from as wide a constituency as practicable.
The right of withdrawal should be vested in the affected parish, district and county councils (or unitary authorities) and enshrined in law.
2 Decision making
The representative authority should be a county council (or unitary authority) rather than a district council, and its leader should not chair the steering group, which should be chaired independently.
The host community should be clearly defined.
Borough (or district) councils should not have both decision-making powers and the responsibility for steering the project.
A county council (or a unitary authority) should retain a strategic overview.
4 Assessing geological suitability
Safety should be put ahead of voluntarism.
A geological survey of the entire country would be legally required should a potential site
be identified within a protected area.
The probability of finding a suitable site in West Cumbria is low.
5 Planning for a GDF
A county council (or unitary authority) should retain the responsibility for planning for a GDF, since its impact would be widely felt.
The final decision whether to develop a GDF should fall within the remit of the Secretary of State for DCLG – not ENERGY.
6 Inventory for geological disposal
The inventory should be limited to the existing waste only and allow for its retrievability.
No dialogue with a community can be seen as open and honest unless county councils are restored to a full participatory role.
7 Community benefits
The size of the community benefits should be quantified, the frequency of their disbursement specified, and they should be disbursed for the entire lifespan of the DGF.
The community benefits should not be used to bribe economically disadvantaged authorities into “volunteering” to host a GDF in less than suitable geology.
8 Socio-economic and environmental effects
There should be a clear separation between environmental and economic issues.
A GDF should not be considered in protected areas.
Safe and secure interim storage should be considered an integral part of any search for a
9 Other comments
UK-wide geological investigations so far have concluded that Eastern and South Eastern areas of England show greater potential than West Cumbria and that Allerdale and
Copeland should be ruled out.
It is necessary to have a credible strategy for dealing with new nuclear waste.
Many thanks and kind regards,