Minister’s pledge on nuclear dump payback
Last updated at 11:28, Thursday, 26 July 2012
A GOVERNMENT minister has said community benefits for any area “hosting” an underground nuclear waste repository can be legally set in stone.
Energy minister Charles Hendry has give a written assurance to Copeland Council leader Elaine Woodburn, who chairs the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Safely Partnership (MRWS).
Three local authorities – Cumbria County Council, Copeland Borough Council and Allerdale Borough Council – will decide in the autumn whether to try and find somewhere suitable in the area to bury the highly radioactive material.
They will decide on evidence covering all the issues produced by the Partnership over the last three years. Community benefits has been a major issue and a potential stumbling block to carrying out a geological search.
The Partnership makes no recommendations but advises that “prior to a decision to take part in the search for a site there should be a commitment that the government will make key parts of the process legally binding”.
Mr Hendry says in his letter to Coun Woodburn: “Following discussions between representatives from the Partnership and my officials, you asked me in June for an assurance that particular aspects of the MRWS process would be put on a ‘firmer footing’ building on the statement of government policy enshrined in the MRWS White Paper.
“I am happy to make a commitment to see this objective delivered such that by the end of Stage 4 (desktop geological studies) government will have decided what mechanisms it will use to put subsequent aspects of the MRWS process (such as the right of withdrawal, planning, inventory, change control, and reaching agreement on community benefits) on a clear transparent and more certain path, and to have started the steps to put these in place.
“These mechanisms should be legally binding, although we do not rule out other means at this stage provided they are found to be acceptable to both government and decision making bodies in due course. The choice of mechanism should be reached via close engagement with any Community Siting Partnership.”
Building a deep repository up to four times as big as Sellafield and comparable to the Channel Tunnel in excavation will cost many billions of pounds.
And the Partnership stresses: “The magnitude of benefits must bear a clear relationship to the overall scale, nature and national significance of the development – there must be flexibility over how community benefits are distributed over time and between different communities. It is anticipated that a proportion of the benefits would be ring-fenced for the relevant host community use while other benefits would reach more widely.”
At present, Copeland receives £1.5million a year to benefit the community from operations at the LLWR repository at Drigg – but this is just for disposing of low-level nuclear waste.
First published at 11:10, Thursday, 26 July 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
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Reminds me of Winston Churchill's exchange with Lady Astor.
Looks like the Local Councils are going to sell our futures. All they're doing is arguing about the price!
When was the last time anybody can remember a government minister telling the truth? ----No, I didn't think so. 'Minister' and 'truth' in the same sentence just doesn't look right. About 60 years ago we were all going to get free electricity if the plant was built there. Unless I'm missing something, I'm still waiting for the first freebie.