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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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Ennerdale parish organises own referendum on burying N-waste

HOUSEHOLDERS in one of the most picturesque areas of Copeland are being asked whether they want to see highly radioactive waste buried on their doorstep.

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FACT-FINDING: Parish councillor David Wood at a MRWS Partnership briefing

Ballot papers have been sent to 267 homes in Ennerdale and Kinniside asking for a view one way or the other, ahead of a community-organised public meeting on Saturday when all the nuclear repository issues will be thrashed out.

Leading councillors will decide on January 30 whether to look for a potential site somewhere in West Cumbria. Despite official denials that no site has yet been identified, feelings are running high in the Ennerdale and Kinniside area in case rock formations in the valley might be considered suitable.

On Saturday morning, Ennerdale and Kinniside residents are invited to attend the meeting in the Shepherds Arms Hotel to hear all the facts and afterwards to fill in their postal ballot papers.

It asks only one question: “Are you in favour of hosting a GDF (geological nuclear waste facility) in Ennerdale or the surrounding area of the parish – yes or no?”

The forms will then be sent to parish clerk David Smith (who lives outside the parish) and the answers communicated to Cumbria County Council, Copeland and Allerdale borough councils, whose cabinet and executive committees will meet separately on January 30 to decide whether to begin making a search for a suitable repository site somewhere in the west of the county.

Ennerdale hosted one public meeting a few weeks ago amid fears that the valley was already earmarked as a potential location.

Although the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has flatly denied the speculation, a “community open day” has been arranged on Saturday (10.30am) hand in hand with plans for the follow-up postal ballot.

The NDA has agreed to formally take part, along with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Copeland Council, Sellafield Workers’ Campaign, Friends of the Earth and the NoEnnerdaleNuclear Dump local protest group.

At the first meeting – on December 10 – around 150 villagers voted almost unanimously against the three councils deciding to move to the next stage of the process – looking for a potential site.

Parish councillor David Wood said yesterday: “The first meeting was more about gaining awareness. Now, with the involvement of both government and non-government organisations, the purpose is to have a full and balanced discussion – an opportunity for our community to get the facts.

“There has been much speculation as to what the siting of a GDF could mean in practice to the Ennerdale environment should the current proposals proceed to investigations and ultimately construction. Nearly 70 per cent of our community has not been adequately informed by the MRWS Partnership.

“What’s clear to many in the Ennerdale community is that we must have a fully informed debate. Once members of our community are in possession of all the facts, they will be able to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to proceed to the next stage of the process, and more importantly whether or not the community wishes to volunteer into hosting a GDF in Ennerdale.

“It is recognised that no formal proposals for the area are currently tabled and that any eventual work is subject to the requirements both of nuclear safety and the statutory planning and environmental process.”

During the MRWS Partnership process, the government said no community would have a repository forced on them – it was committed to an approach based on “voluntarism” – and that if the geology was not suitable then nothing would be built.

Have your say

The majority of those in Copeland surveyed by MRWS as being in favour of the Nuclear dump live in the geologically unsuitable area which cannot host it.
If the survey has been conducted properly it will be easy to separate the votes for those who live in the largely rural area which could possibly host the dump.
I have asked them (Rhuari Bennett) for the percentage in favour for ‘voters’ in the possibly suitable area. They have refused, presumably because they know the answer will be a majority against proceeding.
I have even offered to analyse the raw voting data for them!
Perhaps the Whitehaven News might have more success in getting them to divulge this data making separate votes in Ennerdale etc unnecessary.

Posted by malcolm on 16 January 2013 at 17:28

Nate, your right about the waste and the buildings. Consider for a moment how and why what you say has come about. "UNDERINVESTMENT" by successive governments. The problem is here in Cumbria and as the NAO reports is a danger to the environment. Cumbria needs to play hard ball with HMG and demand better storage facilities at Sellafield and a UK wide search for the best geology for a NATIONAL nuclear waste repository. The petition is now No 1 on the DECC list http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/departments/7

Posted by Colin Wales on 8 January 2013 at 21:21

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