Blog: Cumbria County Council says no to nuclear repository plan

This live event has finished

Latest

  • Cumbria County Council has voted 'NO' on progressing to the next stage of the decision process over plans for an underground nuclear waste facility in Cumbria.
  • Allerdale Council also voted 'NO' to involvement in the plan.
  • Copeland Council had voted 'YES' but needed county council backing to continue.
  • If built, the facility would have contained the most toxic nuclear waste in the UK, some of which is already currently stored above ground at the Sellafield site. A likely multi-billion pound 'community benefits' package would have been available if the project got the go ahead.
  • Stay on this page for reaction to today's 'NO' vote.

3:24pm

MINISTER: 'WE RESPECT CUMBRIA'S DECISION'

The Government has issued a statement on the decision made by Cumbria County Council today.

Responding to the Councillors’ decisions, Edward Davey, Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, said: “We respect the decision made today by Cumbria councillors. They have invested a great deal of time in this project and have provided valuable lessons on how to take forward this process in future. While their decision to withdraw is disappointing, Cumbria will continue to play a central role in the energy and nuclear power sectors.

“We are clear that nuclear power should play a key role in our future energy mix, as it does today. I am confident that the programme to manage radioactive waste safely will ultimately be successful, and that the decisions made in Cumbria today will not undermine prospects for new nuclear power stations.

“It is however absolutely vital that we get to grips with our national nuclear legacy. The issue has been kicked into the long-grass for far too long.

“We remain firmly committed to geological disposal as the right policy for the long-term, safe and secure management of radioactive waste. We also remain committed to the principles of voluntarism and a community-led approach.

“The fact that Copeland voted in favour of entering the search for a potential site for a GDF demonstrates that communities recognise the benefits associated with hosting such a facility.

“For any host community there will be a substantial community benefits package, worth hundreds of millions of pounds. That is in addition to the hundreds of jobs and major investment that such a huge infrastructure project could bring.

“We will now embark on a renewed drive to ensure that the case for hosting a GDF is drawn to the attention of other communities.”

2:40pm

2:29pm

2:10pm Wed 30 Jan 13

robplev says

BRILLIANT RESULT!!!!

Thanks to those who put common sense ahead of financial gain! Nice one, you get my vote.

2:26pm

CUMBRIA SAYS NO TO NUCLEAR REPOSITORY PLAN

Cumbria County Council has dealt a blow to the prospect of building a £12 billion underground nuclear waste site in its area by voting against the idea.

Council leaders rejected moving to the next stage of studying a possible suitable site, by seven votes to three.

There were huge cheers from environmental campaigners outside the council chamber in Carlisle when the decision was announced.

Earlier, leaders of Copeland borough councillors voted 6-1 in favour of moving to the next stage in the search for a site to bury radioactive waste.

The county council vote over-rides decisions on the waste site taken by borough authorities in the area.

Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen said: "This decision represents yet another major blow for the Government's attempts to force the construction of costly nuclear power plants.

"Even the Prime Minister admits we need a plan to store waste before we can build a single new plant. This decision shows that dumping waste in uncertain geology near one of the country's most pristine national parks is not a solution.

"Ministers must now re-consider their nuclear ambitions and turn their attention instead to clean, sustainable and renewable energy."

Cumbria County Council said in a statement that its cabinet has decided that West Cumbria should no longer be considered as a potential location for a deep geological repository to dispose of higher activity radioactive waste, and that the two districts of Copeland and Allerdale should be excluded from further consideration in the Government's Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process.

The 10 members of the Cabinet also agreed that the council will encourage the Government to invest in improvements to the existing surface storage facilities at Sellafield so that there is a more "robust" surface storage arrangement in the decades to come while a permanent solution for the country's higher activity radioactive waste is found.

The decision effectively ends the county council's four-year formal involvement in the MRWS process and puts an end to the "doubts and concerns" of many local people, said the statement.

"As a decision to continue with the process needed the agreement of both the district and county councils, Cumbria County Council's decision has removed both districts from consideration."

Cabinet members made it clear at the meeting that it had been a highly contentious issue which had polarised opinions.

Council leader Eddie Martin (Conservative) said: "Cabinet believes there is sufficient doubt around the suitability of West Cumbria's geology to put an end now to the uncertainty and worry this is causing for our communities. Cumbria is not the best place geologically in the UK - the Government's efforts need to be focused on disposing of the waste underground in the safest place, not the easiest.

"Members have remained concerned throughout on the issue of the legal right of withdrawal if we proceed to the next stage. Despite assurances from Government that they intend to introduce this as primary legislation, we do believe that this could have been done far sooner to ease our concerns. The fact remains the right of withdrawal is not yet enshrined in statute and we could not take the risk of saying yes today without this being absolutely nailed down.

"Cumbria has a unique and world-renowned landscape which needs to be cherished and protected. While Sellafield and the Lake District have co-existed side by side successfully for decades, we fear that if the area becomes known in the national conscience as the place where nuclear waste is stored underground, the Lake District's reputation may not be so resilient."

Deputy Leader Stewart Young added: "The case for investment in Sellafield is now more pressing than ever. We had always raised concerns over the lack of any plan B from Government and the fact that West Cumbria was the only area to express an interest in the process left the Government with few options if we decided not to proceed.

"It is now time for the Government to secure the long-term future of the nuclear industry and put in place robust storage arrangements at Sellafield while it decides how to continue the search for a repository elsewhere in the UK."

2:08pm

1:58pm

1:56pm

1:54pm

1:53pm

1:45pm

1:45pm

1:40pm

1:39pm

1:38pm

1:34pm

1:27pm

1:26pm

Here's what Westmorland Gazette reader Dom Bush has to say via our Facebook page: "I hope very much that it doesn't happen, that the implications of burying nuclear waste in an unsuitable site are clear and that they vote to protect one of the last wild spaces in England. Though I fear that dangling a financial carrot in the faces of struggling working class families in west Cumbria may conveniently swing the vote in favour. They don't have a plan B site so they are doing what they can the sway the local community."

1:24pm

1:24pm

1:18pm

1:16pm

1:14pm

1:13pm

1:12pm

1:10pm

1:10pm

1:09pm

Here are some photos from the Gazette photographer taken outside the council offices in Carlisle this morning, showing demonstrators both for and against plans for an underground nuclear facility.

The Westmorland Gazette:

The Westmorland Gazette:

1:05pm

1:03pm

1:02pm

12:58pm

12:54pm

12:53pm

12:52pm

12:37pm

12:35pm

12:34pm

12:34pm

12:33pm

12:29pm

12:27pm

 

12:27pm

12:27pm

12:18pm

12:17pm

12:16pm

12:10pm

12:04pm

11:59am

 

11:58am

11:58am

11:50am

11:49am

11:39am

11:36am

11:35am

11:31am

11:31am

11:30am

11:30am

11:29am

11:28am

11:28am

11:28am

 

11:12am

11:02am

11:02am

11:01am

11:01am

11:01am

11:01am

10:50am

10:49am

 

10:49am

10:48am

10:48am

10:48am

10:47am

10:46am

10:46am

10:44am

10:38am

10:35am

10:34am

10:31am

10:31am

 

10:30am

YOUR VIEW

How should Cumbria County Council and Allerdale and Copeland Councils vote today?

Should they put a stop to plans for a nuclear waste repository in Cumbria today, or should the idea be explored further?

Leave your comments at the bottom of this page, or tweet your views to @gazettenewsdesk.

10:27am

10:26am

10:25am

10:14am

10:08am

Union members from Sellafield are at Cumbria County Council's meeting to show their support for a 'yes' vote.

They want Cumbria to remain a possible location for the underground waste facility.

 

 

10:02am

9:57am

Friends of the Lake District want the councils to call a halt to the plans today:

 

9:55am

9:46am

8:52am

8:51am

8:51am

8:50am

8:48am

Councils in Cumbria make a landmark decision on proposals for a nuclear waste repository in the county today.

Cumbria County Council and Allerdale and Copeland councils will rule on whether the county and their respective areas remain in a search to find a new underground 'geological disposal facility.'

It could contain the most toxic nuclear waste in the UK, some of which is already currently stored above ground at the Sellafield site, but lead to a likely multi-billion pound 'community benefits' package for the host community.

County council officials have emphasised that the vote this week is not about whether Cumbria agrees a repository, but whether the area progresses to the next stage of geological research - known as Stage Four - from which it could still withdraw at a later date.

However, opponents say that sufficient evidence already exists that the geology of the area is unsuitable and believe the county should walk away from the process now, while remaining in it any further would be a waste of taxpayer's money.

Around 40 questions have been submitted in advance of the county council meeting with a number of public speakers also lined-up.

Organisers expect a decision around 12.30 to 1pm but it could run on due to the scale of the debate.

Radiation Free Lakeland say any intended facility - which in any event would be years away from being built - would be as large as the city as Carlisle and as deep as Scafell is high.

Just last week, UK campaign group, 38 Degrees, said over 16,000 people had signed a petition on its website and cited Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, David Smythe, who was involved in a £400m Nirex study in the 1990s that investigated the suitability of storing nuclear waste in West Cumbria.

He said: “The geology of West Cumbria is very well known and understood. I have assessed every square kilometre of the region – and I can say with confidence that nowhere conforms to the agreed international criteria for a suitable underground waste site."

While in the opposing corner, the Unite union saying it represented Sellafield Workers, said Britain had been 'searching for a national waste repository for over 30 years' and that 12,000 jobs at Sellafield depended on the industry, with thousands more in the local supply chain.

Kevin Coyne, Unite national officer and chair of Trade Unions for Safe Nuclear Energy, said: “The people of Cumbria will not be making any commitments to a geological disposal facility by agreeing to continue with this study. What the workers at Sellafield want is a full and proper investigation into the feasibility of such a facility in Cumbria. Only then can we consider how best to proceed."

Cumbria Tourism's board has said it remains neutral on the proposal until more evidence comes to light, but have stressed it would oppose a facility should it enter Lake District National Park territory.

Some tourism operators have alread been actively opposing the plan for fear of the damage it will caused the 'brand' of the Lake District in the eyes of visitors and the landscape.

Conservation charity the Friends of The Lake District (FoLD), say land in or under the National Park and Solway Coast should be taken out of the equation, and that many have lost trust in the process.

Also handing over a petition at the weekend in a separate event, were campaign group Solway Plain Against Nuclear Dump (SPAND).

Its chairman, John Haywood, said they presented a petition with more than 3,700 signatures to Cumbria County Council Cabinet Member Tony Markley.

The petition which was handed to Cllr Markley at the Golf Hotel in Silloth, and SPAND said it 'showed the strength of local opposition'.

The group of residents from Silloth and the surrounding areas say they remain extremely concerned about local authorities 'volunteering' their area.

Comments (5)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

2:10pm Wed 30 Jan 13

robplev says...

BRILLIANT RESULT!!!!

Thanks to those who put common sense ahead of financial gain! Nice one, you get my vote.
BRILLIANT RESULT!!!! Thanks to those who put common sense ahead of financial gain! Nice one, you get my vote. robplev
  • Score: 0

2:13pm Wed 30 Jan 13

zaney5 says...

robplev wrote:
BRILLIANT RESULT!!!!

Thanks to those who put common sense ahead of financial gain! Nice one, you get my vote.
In total agreement with you.
[quote][p][bold]robplev[/bold] wrote: BRILLIANT RESULT!!!! Thanks to those who put common sense ahead of financial gain! Nice one, you get my vote.[/p][/quote]In total agreement with you. zaney5
  • Score: 0

5:05pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Kendal Jock says...

@robplev
What is so Brilliant about the result?
All the scaremongers and green people protest about the proposed development being a bad move for the National Park and tourism, including our useless MP
Tim Farron. Plenty to say but, doesn't actually achieve much. This so-called dump, will NOT be in the Lakes National Park, as it is outside the boundary line and in a flat marsh-type terrain, that is not by any stretch of the imagination, beautiful. In fact,it is very non-descript land, plus, the waste facility will be 1000 metres deep Yes! think about it-aprox 2 thirds of a mile deep and, will be lined and sealed. Well below any water courses and no danger whatever to humans, flora and fauna. Thousands of people rely on the Nuclear facilities in that area for their livelyhood. There is nowt else. Besides, this is not a new thing, as there has been waste there for many years. The idea is to make the whole area SAFER! Stop all your scaremongering.
@robplev What is so Brilliant about the result? All the scaremongers and green people protest about the proposed development being a bad move for the National Park and tourism, including our useless MP Tim Farron. Plenty to say but, doesn't actually achieve much. This so-called dump, will NOT be in the Lakes National Park, as it is outside the boundary line and in a flat marsh-type terrain, that is not by any stretch of the imagination, beautiful. In fact,it is very non-descript land, plus, the waste facility will be 1000 metres deep Yes! think about it-aprox 2 thirds of a mile deep and, will be lined and sealed. Well below any water courses and no danger whatever to humans, flora and fauna. Thousands of people rely on the Nuclear facilities in that area for their livelyhood. There is nowt else. Besides, this is not a new thing, as there has been waste there for many years. The idea is to make the whole area SAFER! Stop all your scaremongering. Kendal Jock
  • Score: 0

6:45pm Wed 30 Jan 13

zaney5 says...

So if you like it so much over there why don't you move there then.
So if you like it so much over there why don't you move there then. zaney5
  • Score: 0

9:01pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Kendmoor says...

I get the impression he probably is..

anyway, not that it matters any more as it's not happening, but I'm not quite sure you can really say "no danger whatever to humans, flora and fauna"

I mean, Initially it (probably) wouldn't be, but a problem that far underground is much harder to fix, detect or contain than it would be on the surface. It can only eventually go wrong and more likely go wrong because of the fact that it will be harder to detect and maintain, it wouldn't last forever, I can only imagine the headache our future generation would have trying to fix any issues that occur (and they do occur in these types of facilities). I'm not some greenie and for all I care they could build a behemoth of a plant to keep us all going and store the waste which would keep all these people you speak of (sounding like you're one of them?). I'm sure the science would be sound if it were sutible (we'll never know now I guess) but I still wouldn't trust our engineering specifically that far underground for specifically something like this, especially given problems other faciltys (and there aren't many that are active, most are still under consideration) have had.

Like I said, not that it matters anymore, Kendal Jock, but the points you raised "against" it were not the points I feel against the plans, likewise the points you made in favour of it not things that I particularly agree with..other than that jobs one of course...thats a bit of a bugger, I'm sure other methods will have to be looked at and perhaps that will offer new oppertunitys for that where there is nowt else. Either way, I wouldn't balance jobs with a plan that I personally is less sensible than other methods.
I get the impression he probably is.. anyway, not that it matters any more as it's not happening, but I'm not quite sure you can really say "no danger whatever to humans, flora and fauna" I mean, Initially it (probably) wouldn't be, but a problem that far underground is much harder to fix, detect or contain than it would be on the surface. It can only eventually go wrong and more likely go wrong because of the fact that it will be harder to detect and maintain, it wouldn't last forever, I can only imagine the headache our future generation would have trying to fix any issues that occur (and they do occur in these types of facilities). I'm not some greenie and for all I care they could build a behemoth of a plant to keep us all going and store the waste which would keep all these people you speak of (sounding like you're one of them?). I'm sure the science would be sound if it were sutible (we'll never know now I guess) but I still wouldn't trust our engineering specifically that far underground for specifically something like this, especially given problems other faciltys (and there aren't many that are active, most are still under consideration) have had. Like I said, not that it matters anymore, Kendal Jock, but the points you raised "against" it were not the points I feel against the plans, likewise the points you made in favour of it not things that I particularly agree with..other than that jobs one of course...thats a bit of a bugger, I'm sure other methods will have to be looked at and perhaps that will offer new oppertunitys for that where there is nowt else. Either way, I wouldn't balance jobs with a plan that I personally is less sensible than other methods. Kendmoor
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree