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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Copeland residents 'should have biggest say'

And at the borough council meeting in Whitehaven considering arguments for and against trying to find somewhere in West Cumbria, Coun Woodburn highlighted a recent independent opinion poll showing that 60 per cent of Copeland residents are in favour of starting a search for a suitable site in the west of the county.

But she stressed: "If the geology is not right then no repository will be constructed here. A 'yes' decision to go to the next stage (desk top geological studies) would open a door but could be unlocked again by a right of withdrawal from the process.

"If Copeland decides to participate it would not be agreeing to have a repository but to carry on investigations and further discussions."

She believed Copeland should have control over its own destiny while recognising potential impacts beyond the borough boundaries.

Whitehaven Tory councillor Alistair Norwood was adamant that a search had to start. He said: "This is about what Copeland people want, I don't care about what the people of South Lakes and the rest of Cumbria want. The waste is here at Sellafield and it's not going to go anywhere else. As a council we must stand firm and go to the next stage because it's what the people of this area want."

Leading councillors of Cumbria county, Copeland and Allerdale councils are due to make the big decision on October 11 but they will consider an option to put it off for three months. 

It has emerged following private talks in London this week between the three council leaders and Baroness Verma of the Dept of Energy that the decision may be delayed until January.

Egremont Labour councillor Karl Connor said last night: "This is my understanding but whenever the decision takes place it will be the single biggest decision ever taken in Cumbria. So much rests on the call - yes or no - and the whole economic future of West Cumbria is in the hands of the executive of this council and their counterparts in Allerdale and county.

"The future economic prospects of the workforce of West Cumbria is being decided over the next few months and it is far too significant an issue to play politics with.

"Most of us on both sides of the chamber know that the county council are broadly in favour of a deep disposal facility so it is shameful of them to choose now to display the kind of brinksmanship you'd expect when baying a secondhand motor vehicle. Hopefully during a three month deferral the 'inbetweeners' at the county council will stop putting their own egos and agendas first and remember they are here to serve the views of the West Cumbrians who elected them."

Sellafield Workers' Campaign also made an impassioned plea for a desk top geological survey through Egremont councillor and trades union activist Sam Pollen.

The campaign is worried that the county council is going to do a U-turn on its official policy. "We are concerned," said Coun Pollen, "that the county council are considering to vote against going to the next stage. This would be the wrong decision for Cumbria and Cumbrians and we'd miss a unique opportunity not only the geology but also the potential benefits in the interests of the county."

However, another Sellafield worker and Frizington Labour councillor Jon Downie argued there were too many potential risks to say 'yes' just yet.
"I think we should get clarity on risks and then decide whether to move forward."

Although no potential sites have yet been identified there is speculation that the picturesque Eskdale and Ennerdale area might eventually be explored. Ennerdale Tory councillor Bob Salkeld declared in a letter: "The people in my ward have grave reservations about continuing to the next stage. I have been inundated with letters all of which are totally opposed to the idea of an underground repository in this area.

"This does not mean they are opposed to the nuclear industry. Copeland Council is seen publicly to be too close and too reliant on the nuclear industry to make a rational decision at this important stage. I feel we should withdraw and allow the powers that be to find a suitable site in some other part of the country.

"Finding an underground facility is absolutely necessary and as soon as possible but please not in West Cumbria." 

And in public question time, Ennerdale Bridge resident David Wood declared: "At a time when government cutbacks are affecting essential services it is inconceivable that elected representatives would consider investing potentially billions of pounds of public money in a project whose success is at best not particularly promising."

Marianne Birkby from Radiation Free Lakeland claimed Copeland's perception was already undermined by the presence of Sellafield. "The reason artists and poets love Ennerdale & Eskdale area is because of the wildness and beauty."

She said that if the door was opened "to a nuclear dump under Ennerdale or Eskdale that artists and poets would not be writing and painting about the natural and wild wonder of a unique place but about the grotesque and brutal rape of land."

Urging a 'yes' vote, retired ex-Sellafield union leader Coun John Kane said: "I have Parkinson's disease, I have no control over that but I do over the nuclear industry and I know the anti-nuclear groups see a solution as the Achilles Heel of the industry - no solution, no nuclear industry. 

"Now we need to know once and for all whether the geology is right or not. We are not going to be allowed to move the waste out of Cumbria - the solution is in Cumbria and we have to find it."

Most councillors spoke in favour of starting a search but were not allowed to take a vote or make a recommendation to the Executive who will make its decision either on October 11 - or later.

Leader Elaine Woodburn said: "It's healthy to hear both sides of the argument, some of the points are valid concerns and will go to the Executive."

  • We'll have a full round-up of Copeland Council meeting in next week's Whitehaven News.
Have your say

Thanks to John above for suggesting the right thing. As to the Tory councillor of course he doesn't care about his neighbours in South Lakeland. It won't bother him when the tourism trade starts to drop off in the Lakes.

Posted by Colin Wales on 29 September 2012 at 18:34

just get on with it and get the new build up and running and the underground reposetry up and running. wind turbine,s are a big waste of money,they don,t provied employment,and they are bloody well disgusting.if the goverment want them stick them down south and blot there land scape .what,s wrong up here is to many none local people worked up here and now live here. have worked down there and retired now want it stopped . west cumbria needs it ,we need it that,s why were the best at what we do they seem to say we get the s--- from the rest of the world.cumbrian,s are Getting horrible turbines for the rest of the country.they don,t want it dump it up here. we want jobs,not box 1 and 2.from a true bloodied fellow cumbrian. work not dole....

Posted by robert hattersley on 28 September 2012 at 18:51

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