ANTI-NUCLEAR dump opponents sent a message to the world at the weekend using the snowy Cumbrian landscape as a platform.

Residents' campaign group, No Ennerdale Nuclear Dump, said up to 500 people attended its demo close to the shores of Ennerdale Water, with media from as far afield as Australia.

The word 'HELP' was carved out in the snow, a giant 'Men At Work' sign was also utilised with an accompanying radioactive emblem and protesters bore No To Stage Four placards.

Roger Parker, from, said: “We believe that the message is clear, nowhere in the Lake District National Park should even be considered as a site for a nuclear waste repository.”

The event took place ahead of a landmark decision on Wednesday (January 30) by Cumbria County Council, Allerdale and Copeland councils.

They will rule on whether the county and their respective areas remain in a Government-ordered 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-million 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.