LOCAL opponents to a potential underground nuclear waste repository in Cumbria are canvassing for signatures today.

Radiation Free Lakeland led by Milnthorpe's Marianne Birkby, is at Wasdale Head Show and Shepherd's Meet to get signatures for a joint letter to government energy minister, Ed Davey MP.

The plans for a vast underground geological disposal facility in Cumbria were halted earlier this year after Cumbria County Council voted to withdraw from the process.

But there are concerns among some that it is now back on the cards after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced new rules for deciding where they go in the future.

The change would mean the government giving precedence to the decisions of local district councils in this case Copeland and Allerdale - over those of a county council.

Ms Birkby fears any facility would involve encroaching underground into Lake District National Park territory.

In the letter to Mr Davey, she wrote: "Cumbrians have said no repeatedly to a geological dump under this land from Morecambe Bay to the Solway. The new consultation announced by DECC is a narrowly focussed set of questions with the aim of achieving a yes response to a ‘geological disposal facility’ as quickly as possible by scrapping the rights of host communities to say no.

"The consultation aims to give the few people on the Allerdale and Copeland Borough Council Executive the sole right to make the decision. Cumbrians have already said no repeatedly to becoming the nuclear dumping ground for existing and future radioactive wastes taken out of reactor cores and buried under Cumbria’s leaky geology."

Campaigners for the facility say most of the UK's highly toxic nuclear waste is already stored in west Cumbria at the Sellafield site and is contained above ground which is inadequate for the future.

It also says a GDF would safeguard as well as create hundreds of jobs for the west Cumbria community as well as confronting the UK's largest nuclear storage issue.