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Wednesday, 01 July 2015

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One week to go: your messages to the decision-makers on GDF

the decision- makers: The seven members of Copeland Borough Council executive – top row, from left, leader Elaine Woodburn, George Clements, Hugh Branney and Phil Greatorex; bottom, from left, Gillian Troughton, Allan Holliday and John Bowman. The executive meets at 10am next Wednesday, exactly the same time as the other decision-making bodies, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet and Allerdale’s executive

SIR – With just a few days to go before our local councils vote on going to Stage 4 of the nuclear waste repository, we ask to use your columns one more time to put our Yes message to the community.

We have a reminder. The process of finding a store has now been going on for 30 years. For those who don’t want the nuclear energy industry to exist, this drift and delay is a perfect tactic. They have never made any secret of the fact that they see waste as the “Achilles Heel” of our major industry. And that is the driving force of much of the opposition to moving to the next stage.

We would also like to provide some reassurance. The vote next week is NOT about having a GDF. It is about moving to a stage where major desktops studies are done – not one borehole will be bored. More, any council which opts to participate Stage 4 will have at least three other opportunities to stop participating before any GDF goes ahead.

And finally, we would like to stress that there is a reward for going ahead – and we’re not talking about formal economic benefits from central government.

If West Cumbria can “capture” the full fuel cycle of nuclear, and combine that with our growing expertise in decommissioning, then a whole 21st century economic future opens up both for the Sellafield area and the Workington area. Our niche skills, added to our access to road, rail and sea, will make us unique in the world market.

Professor Neil Chapman, easily the most eminent of all the experts in this field who have contributed to the debate, said last month in The Whitehaven News: “We will need to be patient, take on board alternative views and scientific opinions and be prepared to adapt... but provided we recognise these constraints, there seems to be every reason to get involved in what will be a vital, multi-generational project, with considerable benefits for people today and for many decades to come”.

We admit it: we couldn’t have put it better ourselves!


Sellafield Workers Campaign

SIR – Two significant things happened last week. One was The Whitehaven News hosting the webchat with Baroness Verma on January 16 that boosted Peter Maher’s NO petition between noon and 11.30pm that evening by some 1,594 votes (providing a daily total of 2,107 in comparison to the previous highest daily total of 1,321). So thank you both.

The second thing is that two days later the BBC1 local news carried a line saying that the Copeland Council leader had said that she thought that the public should have a vote on the GDF. I wondered where this quote had come from but could not find it – but all was revealed in the BBC’s Sunday Politics show for our area.

They did a piece on the GDF in which Coun Woodburn said: “It would be a pretty stupid Government that after the failures in the past tried to impose a facility on an area. I’ve always believed that people should have a vote, whether that being through a referendum or whatever it is, but it has got to be at the right time and it’s got to be with all the information.”

This comes from the person that wrongly allowed a FULL council to vote on the “Expression of Interest” 12 days after the 94-page White Paper was issued on June 12 2008 based on a four-page “interpretation” in a six-page document compiled by Copeland’s director of development that purportedly provided the information on the consequences of engaging in the process that was put before the FULL council meeting on June 24 that year.

This process was against Copeland’s constitution, as were her similar attempts in late 2012 to involve the FULL council once again in the ‘Final Decision’ which she was forced to reverse, saying that the regulation must have changed since June 2008 – it hadn’t, and nor had her ignorance of the constitution.

She, in your paper, along with four others in the Keswick Reminder, accused people like myself of “scaremongering” because we distributed both Professor Smythe and Haszeldine’s research and conclusions along with all of the parish council independent views on the GDF to all of the parish clerks.

Rather disgustingly Copeland’s MP in the Keswick Reminder of December 7 2012 was quoted as saying: “The scaremongering will not stop, though. Opposing a repository in principle is one thing – and let’s be clear nobody is being asked to approve one, simply to approve further geological investigations – but embarking upon a deliberate campaign of scaremongering, lies and deceit is another thing altogether”.

As this came from a person who insultingly tweeted about some old lady’s “moustache” while on a train, I personally do not take offence at his rant as it goes to show his character and arrogant views.

As the recent meeting of Cumbria’s six MPs took both written and verbal information from both Professors Smythe and Haszeldine that had previously been distributed by us “scaremongers”, will the Copeland Council leader, Lord Hutton and Mr John Clarke of the NDA through the pages of your paper also retract their insinuations whilst our MP does it through the Keswick Reminder?

The Copeland leader is quoted above as saying “and it’s got to be with all the information”. Could she please explain why, after three years and £3million of an MRWS consultancy process (that she at times chaired), that this very information, some of which was being distributed to all the councillors in both Allerdale and Copeland in December 2010 (she should check her email of 11.12am, December 7 2010) by a “scaremongering” ignoramus like me, was not considered by the MRWS or for that matter the councillors and MPs until three months after the original decision date last October? I would be most interested in the answer and so would others.


Longcroft, Egremont

SIR – Thousands of Cumbrians actively opposing the siting of a high-level nuclear waste dump in Cumbria have valid economic, social and safety concerns.

Confirmation of the dangerous state of high-level waste currently stored at Sellafield requires short- and long-term action at local and national levels. Yet again we have to trust that a short-term solution, which should create a substantial number of local jobs, will be undertaken by Sellafield immediately.

Procrastinating about the effective long-term solution for high-level waste is something that has bedeviled the nuclear industry since its conception.

The current proposal to bury it in Cumbria despite its notoriously complex geology is a bizarre and potentially dangerous notion. With 75 per cent of West Cumbria already excluded in the MRWS process and the remaining 25 per cent described as having low potential for suitability by the MRWS lead geologist, why are our councils even considering the prospect of wasting £40million of taxpayers’ money and valuable time on geological studies?

Why are the councils considering geological studies in areas of low potential when the repercussions for any community selected will be social, economic and housing blight until the threat is removed?

What makes continuing to Stage 4 an even more ridiculous proposition is the prospect that the most likely site for drilling tests [Stage 5] could be Ennerdale Fell on National Trust land within the Lake District National Park. The national environmental and legislative battle that will commence on all fronts should this occur would be without precedent.

This shouldn’t be a decision about West Cumbrian jobs and handouts; it is about a safe legacy to hand to endless generations in the UK. The most suitable geology lies in Eastern England but the most pliant community is in West Cumbria. The responsible action is to opt for the safest site. If Cumbrian councils vote to proceed, they will be complicit in further delaying a national solution to dangerous waste disposal as well as threatening Cumbria’s safety alongside its social and economic future.



SIR – Cumbria has many achievements to be proud of. An extremely important example of these is its major success in the initiation and development of many new applications in the nuclear reactor field.

It built and operated the Windscale’s Piles as a wartime requirement, it built and operated the four Calderhall Reactors, the first commercial nuclear reactors, it built and operated the 17MW prototype Advanced Gas Cooled nuclear reactor as well as creating and operating all the supporting major facilities.

For over 50 years the people of the Copeland area of Cumbria have been, and still are, a remarkable technological workforce, not only for the above extraordinary nuclear achievements but also for the work in the radioactive field to support industrial and medical research and its applications.

Deservedly thousands of people have had employment and very rewarding careers in the extremely wide range of research and commercial challenges at the plant. The employment was well deserved because the workers came from an area which had no previous experience of this type of industry and, in fact, they joined one which was entirely novel and challenging.

To continue this 50-year success story the workers at the plant now want their area to be considered for the deep disposal of nuclear waste. They know more than most that a repository can only be created in their area if the geology is entirely suitable. Should it be so it would underpin and reward them for a half century of‘ high endeavour.

Not only would the Copeland area of Cumbria be rewarded but Britain would continue to have, and be able to expand, a clean and reliable source of energy for centuries to come. May it be a Happy New Year for them.



SIR – The government cuts spending in all areas and I think all councils are in the same situation.

Copeland has proposed major cuts in all areas, now it wants to hike council tax, so less for more money! But the powers that be may still say yes to a nuclear dump investigation (which has already cost millions).

Cut our services and increase our council tax, then stuff your dump central government. I believe the Midlands has the ideal geology! No, we’ll offer them £500,000 as a sweetener.

We’ll take the £500,000 though, as we have Sellafield here. Yet the roads are crap, most don’t get gritted even though areas such as Eskdale are a tourist destination with six businesses (pubs and Ratty) plus holiday accommodation year round for example.

It is about time that Cumbria stood up and demanded more for what we already have on our doorstep without contemplating more. Look at the big picture, we have Sellafield yet our services and infrastructure are very basic. Do you really think things will change with a nuclear dump or another nuclear power station? No it won’t, the benefits will be a few jobs to locals, with the pounds going to central government, not here.

Name and address withheld

SIR – In your article “Four MP’s back geological search – two still undecided” (The Whitehaven News, January 17) you state that Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham has given his backing to continue the search process for a GDF in West Cumbria.

The Solway Plain Against a Nuclear Dump (SPAND), however, have a letter from Sir Tony to one of his constituents, on House of Commons notepaper, signed personally and dated November 5 2012 stating: “For my part I can tell you that I am totally opposed to the thought and idea of an underground repository in the Silloth area and would not support such a proposal under any circumstances”.

I have to say that I applaud him for these sentiments but are we therefore to assume that he is happy to vote for a search just as long as it’s Not In My Back Yard?

Chris LANE

Bowness Cottage, Ennerdale

SIR – The article “Dump Protestors Plan Weekend of Action” (The Whitehaven News, January 17) stated that, in referring to the search for a site for a GDF, John Wilson “called on bodies such as the National Trust, Cumbria Tourism, the Green Party and Friends of the Earth to make their views known.”

We at the Allerdale & Copeland Green Party are only too glad to do so.

In 2010 Allerdale & Copeland Green Party proposed the following motion at Green Party conference:

“Green Party policy is that the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste should be in surface or near-surface facilities. Facilities should be located as near to the site where the waste is produced as possible. Developers will need to demonstrate how the facilities will be monitored and how waste packages, or waste, could be retrieved. All long-term waste management options will be subject to robust regulatory requirements. The Party opposes the building of any new nuclear power stations, however the above policy would also apply to waste which may not yet have been produced.”

This was passed and is now national Green Party policy.

We have, since the decision of Copeland, Allerdale and Cumbria County councils to volunteer, campaigned for the councils to withdraw from the process. We will continue to do so up to, and beyond if necessary, the cabinet/executive meetings on January 30 that will decide whether to enter Stage 4.

The leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett has said: “The Green Party is the only national party to oppose the Government policy of deep geological disposal of high-level nuclear waste. We call on the councils of Allerdale, Copeland and Cumbria County to halt the search for such a site in the obviously geologically unsuitable area of West Cumbria. We suggest that everyone lobbies the executive/cabinet members of these councils and asks them to withdraw from the process.”

We are quite willing to work with the recently established groups in the areas that feel themselves most threatened and other groups that John Wilson named. We trust a powerful, and ultimately successful, campaign against an ill-conceived idea in a totally geologically unsuitable area will result from increased awareness about what the proposals actual are.

Geoff SMITH, Jill PERRY, Alistair GREY

Officers, Allerdale & Copeland Green Party

SIR – I refer to the letter from Mr McKirdy (The Whitehaven News, January 17).

I agree that a meeting, offered by Mr McKirdy, would be a positive move. May I suggest that this take place after the decision-making bodies have met on January 30 and their decision on whether or not to proceed to Stage 4 is known?

My thanks to Mr McKirdy for explaining the roles of DMBs, CSPs and host communities, all of which I am aware of. I am also aware that neither the DMBs nor NDA have undertaken to gain the consent of potential host communities, before their home environment is offered to NDA for geological investigations.

The community, where I live, has chosen not to be ignored and we have held a referendum. The results of this referendum are based on a 72.3 per cent turnout, with 5.2 per cent in favour of hosting a GDF and 94.3 per cent opposed – a fairly clear majority by any standards.

Perhaps one the issues Mr McKirdy can explain in any proposed meeting is: How does the NDA (and DECC) reconcile the prospect of my community being entered into the MRWS Stage 4 process against our wishes and the claims that the MRWS process is based on voluntarism?

Finally, with regard to Canada, in the 1970s and 1980s there were searches for suitable geology within the Canadian Shield rock volumes. This geology is of the granitic type, in low relief terrain, and therefore potentially suitable for a GDF. The area covered by this rock type is more than 30 times the land area of England and Wales. So when Canada restarted its search for a GDF in 2002, the need to carry out a full whole terrain search of the entire Canadian landmass was unnecessary. The invitation for communities to volunteer was preceded by a geological search.

David I. WOOD

Ennerdale Bridge, Cleator

SIR – I am against any proposed underground nuclear facility.

How long would it be before the rest of the world would be sending their waste to be buried here? I know what the answer to that would be from those who are going to substantially benefit financially from this, and that is that it won’t happen. Not likely – money talks.

It should be put to a vote of the people who live in this county, and not left to the likes of our MP Jamie Reed, councillors, and well-heeled business people, who when it all goes wrong and we are faced with contamination, can afford to up sticks and move away from it.

We can’t. Accidents happen and Sellafield has had quite a few of them. Please think before giving the go-ahead for this facility.

Simeon SCOTT

Meadow View, Egremont

SIR – Our precious environment, the Lake District, faces a quite shocking threat: plans are afoot to bury high-level nuclear waste in Cumbria and possibly in the Lake District National Park. The Park makes up 75 per cent of the area under consideration, Ennerdale being the most likely site.

On January 30, our local councils will decide whether to continue with a plan which could ultimately see high-level nuclear waste from the UK and possibly abroad buried in the Lake District ... unless we stop them. The potential damage to our environment is unthinkable.

Two eminent Professors of Geology and Geophysics have studied the area at length and in detail, and have explained that this area of mountains, water and fractured rock is totally unsuitable.

Once again, we wish we did not feel the need to write to you, but the Lake District is a unique and special place, and we are determined to protect it.

Kit and Charles GRAVES

Directors of Lake District Hotels Ltd


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