Councils call for jobs ‘task force’
Last updated at 12:09, Thursday, 09 August 2012
THE leaders of Copeland and Allerdale councils have called for a “task force” to solve some of West Cumbria’s nuclear-related issues in the hope of bringing business and jobs boosts to the area.
They made the call at Tuesday’s meeting in Cleator Moor of the independent West Cumbria Stakeholders (nuclear sites) watchdog.
Criticisms were voiced that not enough benefit was being gained.
Copeland Council leader Elaine Woodburn, supported by her Allerdale counterpart Alan Smith, called for a special task force to find ways of creating better benefit.
The group would involve local authorities, the nuclear industry, and unions.
Stakeholders felt that more could be gained from decommissioning. There were also concerns over the amount of contaminated metal going overseas for treatment before being sent back for treatment.
Recent movement of massive steel boilers from the decommissioned Berkeley power station in Gloucestershire was highlighted.
Coun Woodburn said: “These Berkeley boilers are going to Sweden, and we get the waste when it comes back. If the problem is government then it’s up to us collectively to change that. We need a driver – and that can be a task group.”
Nuclear industry representatives spoke about their on-going social-economic commitments and strategies under which millions of pounds are invested in the area every year through Britain’s Energy Coast, and also to identify future opportunities.
Gary McKeating, Nuclear Management Partners’ head of socio-economics, stressed: “There is a 3,000 jobs target over the next 15 years in the West Cumbria Economic Blueprint – this is something we need to hang our hat on, have it in our minds at all times.”
But Allerdale leader Alan Smith said: “Socio-economics is also about poverty – jobs alleviate poverty. We do need a task group. The stronger we are, the better it will be. Jobs are needed, nuclear or not.”
After the meeting, Coun Woodburn told The Whitehaven News: “There is a lot of potential, new innovation, new skills learned at Sellafield through the decommissioning.
“We need to look at what other markets are out there to use those skills and bring new industries and businesses here to the local area, things like decommissioning oil rigs. These need to be done but must be from the skills we have gained through decommissioning the most hazardous Sellafield facilities.”
She called for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to start “thinking outside the box”.
“In fairness,” she said, “the NDA are given the job by government to clean up the nuclear sites, that’s fine. But government has to give them the flexibility to look at what else is coming up outside of decommissioning.
“With the metal from the nuclear facilities combined with the metal from the oil rigs, you’ve got a very strong business case. Berkeley boilers has highlighted to use what can be done – it seems lunacy that something we could get jobs from should be exported over to Sweden because that county is the only one with a recycling facility, yet we have to take the waste back.
“I think the NDA has got a clear message that they have a significant role to play and I expect them to be contacting us shortly about how to do that. The unions also have a role to play – they’re the people at the front of the work and much better qualified to know what the potential is.”
On the nuclear industry creating more business for local firms through the Supply Chain, Coun Woodburn pointed out: “There has been an increase in spending but we’ve got to make sure we keep more of the work in the area. In these difficult economic times if you want small companies to invest then you’ve got to give them a plan that says it’s worth investing.”
Stakeholders chairman David Moore said the group would fully support setting up the task force. “Clearly coming from the local authorities, and from the local community there has been a frustration that no-one is doing the work to bring forward the information that allows the private sector to see if there is a business case to invest – in, say, a smelter or whatever to process the metal here.”
West Cumbria currently benefits from an annual £10 million West Cumbria socio-economic package.
Sellafield Ltd and NMP say that the funding they provide, along with the NDA demonstrates commitment to Britain’s Energy Coast.
A spokesman said: “There will always be a call to do more, and we welcome the opportunity to talk to community leaders about how we can help them realise their aspirations. We would certainly be prepared to talk to them about the scope for a task force and see how they envisage its role in realtion to the Energy Coast.”
Millions of pounds had been spent on project such as the Dalton Institute supporting new and existing businesses, along with investment in the Port of Workington while work was about to start on the Construction Skills Centre, Lillyhall.
First published at 11:11, Thursday, 09 August 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
The Sellafield Ltd and NMP comment that the Â£5m funding they give to the Energy Coast represents a commitment is simply preposterous and backward. All over the world development agencies have recognised the development value to be extracted from delivery of decommissioning programmes. There comes a point when we can no longer tolerate the lip service shown by the industry through direct action. Ms Woodburn and Alan Smith need to assert themselves to save all that we value here in West Cumbria. Time is fast running out!!!!!
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