CONTROVERSIAL plans for an underground nuclear dump could be back on the cards for the Lake District after the launch of a new government consultation into finding a suitable site.

Attempts to create a ‘geological disposal facility’ (GDF) in West Cumbria collapsed in January this year when Cumbria County Council (CCC) excluded two districts from being considered as potential locations.

Copeland and Allerdale borough councils had both been willing to be considered before being over-ruled by the county council.

There had also been concerns that the £12bn underground repository could encroach into the Lake District National Park.

In a statement MP Edward Davey from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said the site selection process would be re-launched in 2014 following responses to the 12-week consultation, launched yesterday.

He also said the government remained committed to geological disposal and had been reviewing the site selection process since the search in Cumbria was brought to an end in January.

Responding to the announcement, Friends of the Earth nuclear issues campaigner Ruth Balogh said the consultation was the government’s ‘last chance’ to get it right on nuclear waste policy.

Marianne Birkby of Radiation Free Lakeland said: “Even if the government are hell-bent on a GDF, Cumbria should not be part of this consultation because it was rejected last time, and the majority of parish councils within Allerdale and Copeland said no to it.”

However the idea of a GDF is backed by the Sellafield Workers Campaign, with news of the consultation being welcomed by workers’ union Unite.

National officer Kevin Coyne said: “CCC’s decision earlier this year to pull out of the search for a waste repository was short-sighted because it does not magic the waste away.”

“In the meantime Sellafield workers have the responsibility of looking after most of this radioactive waste.”

CCC issued a cross-party response to the announcement, with council Leader Coun Stewart Young saying it would be ‘looking closely’ at the revised proposals to see if concerns raised in January had been addressed, including the ‘uncertainty on the right for communities to bring the process to a halt if they are not happy.’