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Friday, 28 November 2014

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£½m to promote Lakes after N-vote

HALF a million pounds will be spent on protecting the Lake District’s image if councils agree to look for a nuclear waste burial site in West Cumbria.

The Government has earmarked the £500,000 for a nationwide advertising campaign on top of £3.25 million already spent by the Department of Energy on the repository process, The Whitehaven News can reveal.

Another opinion poll is also likely to be held, this time into how a deep underground repository in the area would affect perception of the wider public.

It all depends now on whether Cumbria County Council’s cabinet, along with the Copeland and Allerdale council executives, agree to a West Cumbria site investigation.

If they vote ‘yes’ at their meetings on January 30, the government has set money aside to launch the nationwide advertising campaign over a six-month period. Without necessarily mentioning a repository in the advertising, the aim would be to enhance Cumbria and its brand.

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said yesterday: “If reports are true that the government is to spend half a million pounds promoting the county brand then I think that money could have been much better spent on the local NHS, children or the elderly, but if it is to be on advertising I hope it is spent wisely. It goes without saying this money won’t be spent in West Cumbria.”

He added: “The Cumbrian brand is strong and strengthening all the time, as is the Lakes brand, and they have grown alongside development of the nuclear industry.”

Copeland Council leader Elaine Woodburn felt £500,000 would be well spent if it meant having to counter negativity spread by anti-repository groups. “It’s about people’s perspective outside Cumbria mainly, which is why it would be a national campaign, but it all depends on January 30.

“The MRWS opinion poll has shown that 68 per cent of people in Copeland support taking part in site search, 51 per cent in Allerdale and 50 per cent in the rest of Cumbria.”

Repository critic and Ennerdale parish councillor David Wood said: “The prospect of this money confirms that siting a GDF in the Lake District will damage the Lake District brand image – otherwise why is so much additional public money being used to promote tourism in Cumbria?

“I’d be interested to know how government thinks it can prevent the harmful effects on tourism once the wider public becomes aware that a GDF may be sited in the most beautiful of our national parks.”

Lack of trust has been at the root of the key issues of concern and especially the right of withdrawal from the repository process.

In a letter to the councils ahead of the January 30 vote, energy minister Baroness Verma repeated the government’s commitment to make the right of withdrawal legally binding, probably through legislation. And on community benefits she says: “We commit following discussions with the decision-making bodies to making specific funding proposals for meeting the 2008 White Paper commitment to community benefits within 18 months of any decision to participate – this will cover the nature of a community fund and will cover the key issues of scope, scale, timing and governance.

“Development of a final package may require clarity on where the site will be located and so final agreement may not be possible before there is clarity on a site or sites.”

A meeting is being held in Keswick tomorrow (Friday) for local people to make their views known on the issues including the Lake District brand. It will be chaired by Cumbrian author Keith Richardson.

Have your say

Johnysparkle is correct the poll carried out by mori only asked people and businesses who would have participated in the building,running and supply of this establishment,normal citizens who had no participation in the plant were not even asked,that is why no-one agreed with the poll,because everyone asked their friends,family etc if they were asked most said no,does this not show that cumbrians opinion stands for nothing,keeping them out of the loop,is that democracy NO if you impose your will and your personal need on others without them having a say that is close to dictatorship and fascism is it not,stand up instead of waiting then complaining.

Posted by Jame O on 16 January 2013 at 12:30

Johnny Sparkle - Having a simple Yes / No question to a waste repository in Cumbria misses the whole point about what is wrong with this process. Virtually all the waste to go in the repository is right next to the lake district already and has been for sixty years (co-habiting nicely with tourism). One of the things people seem to forget is that the other parts of the country had no reason to vote for the repository because they are not currently storing the waste. We are storing it already so need to do something with it. Saying no to going to the next stage of the process does not make the waste disappear from Cumbria (dont tell the tourists), it simply lengthens the time it will be stored above ground here. However, agreeing to go to the next stage does not allow the other parts of the country to be investigated which may identify a more suitable site. If there is a referendum, it should be about whether the current process to find a repository is continued (which puts politics and people first)or whether a different process is followed which examines the whole country and puts the geology first and so will hopefully find the best site.

Posted by John on 15 January 2013 at 21:15

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