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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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‘Let us decide on LLWR cash pot’

THE Copeland community should be given the power to decide how a cash pot it receives for hosting the low-level waste repository (LLWR) is spent, a meeting has heard.

By Andrew Clarke

The benefits package paid to the community is currently being renegotiated between the LLWR, near Drigg, and the planning authority Cumbria County Council.

The figure has been set at £1.5million a year, since 2009, paid into the Copeland Community Fund (CCF), which distributes the cash locally.

And a meeting of the West Cumbria Sites Stakeholders Group (WCSSG) heard this week that members wish for the same “successful” setup to remain under the new contract.

Elaine Woodburn, vice-chair of WCSSG, said: “The benefits package should remain within the community – and what it is spent on decided by the community.

“We are happy with the amount that is paid in – allowing for an increase with inflation – and we need to ensure the figure that comes into the community is maintained.”

David Moore, chair of WCSSG, added: “It’s a successful setup; it’s tried and tested and non-political.”

WCSSG will write to Cumbria County Council, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (owners of the LLWR) and the Department for Energy and Climate Change to express its views.

The annual £1.5million paid into CCF includes £50,000 for the parish of Drigg and Carleton and £35,000 for community initiatives within a 15-mile radius of the LLWR.

CCF recently celebrated a milestone total of £9million donated to 120 local organisations running 158 different projects. This amount has been more than doubled in match-funding.

The benefits package is up for renegotiation as part of the LLWR’s application to the county council for permission to build a further six vault on site. The expansion will allow the site to continue to receive the country’s low-level nuclear waste over the next 60-plus years.

The county is expected to take the crucial decisions on the expansion plans and the benefits package later this year. The Environment Agency is also producing an accompanying permit, a final of draft of which will soon be put out for consultation.

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