CUMBRIA County Council is to debate a new consultation document which has been drawn up to find a way forward on the controversial underground storage of radioactive waste.

The review was prompted by the council's decision in January to pull out of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely process.

The storage of nuclear waste underground - known as geological disposal - has been a divisive issue for Cumbrians.

West Cumbria - which markets itself as Britain's Energy Coast - has been a front runner as a possible location for geological disposal and Allerdale and Copeland councils are keen to promote the potential economic benefits. There are also ongoing safety concerns with the large amount of radioactive waste currently stored above ground at the Sellafield reprocessing facility.

However, campaigners such as Radiation Free Lakeland and Cumbria Opposed to a Nuclear Environment (CORE) are energetic opponents of geological disposal, claiming the stored waste could end up leaching into the water supply or the Irish Sea.

But the consultation document, which Cumbria county councillors will debate on Thursday, asserts that geological disposal 'provides a long-term, safe solution to radioactive waste management that does not depend on ongoing human intervention'.