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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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County council vote ‘called in’ for challenge

CUMBRIA County Council cabinet’s majority decision not to look for an underground nuclear waste site has been formally challenged under its own rules.

Coun David Southward has requested a formal “call-in” supported by two other county councillors from Copeland seats.

They claim the cabinet decision is flawed.

The call-in is to “test the merits of the cabinet decision and to scrutinise the basis on which it was taken”.

Six reasons are listed for why they think the decision is flawed:

Cabinet gave no coherent reason for the decision.

It foregoes the opportunity to identify suitable sites indefinitely.

Premature abandonment of the MRWS process flies in the face of established UK government and county council policies.

The decision discounts the clear majority view of Copeland residents who want the MRWS process to proceed to Stage 4.

It jeopardises relations between the UK government and county council particularly with regard to nuclear new-build.

It stultifies economic development in Copeland for a generation.

Councillors David Southward (St Bees/Egremont), Frank Morgan (Cleator Moor South/Egremont) and Wendy Skillicorn (Kells/Sandwith) have all made the formal request, inviting the county council to instigate the necessary procedures and request appropriate officers and members at the call-in meeting.

This will be conducted by the county council’s environmental scrutiny meeting in Carlisle on February 19 and in public.

County council cabinet voted 7-3 not to proceed to the next stage which would have involved desktop studies to help determine where the geology might be suitable to build a repository somewhere in West Cumbria.

Although Copeland and Allerdale executive councillors voted to move to the next stage, the county cabinet decision has effectively halted the existing MRWS Partnership. However the two West Cumbrian councils now seek to go it alone if a new (repository) process can be established.

Tim Knowles, Anne Burns and Oliver Pearson were the three cabinet members who voted to stay in the process which lasted three years and cost more than £3 million of taxpayers’ money.

The cabinet decision went against the wishes of county councillors representing wards in Copeland.

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