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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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N-waste site: the search resumes

PUBLIC support must be secured before an area hosts an underground repository for high-level nuclear waste, the Government has confirmed in a new White Paper.

A “test of public opinion that demonstrates community support” will take place ahead of a final decision on the location of a geological disposal facility (GDF).

No one tier of local authority can veto the plans against the wishes of others – and more information on possible locations will be provided earlier in the process.

These are among the main conclusions from a new nationwide process, launched by Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) last Thursday, which laid out what format the next search will take.

It includes:

a payment of £1million per year for up to five years will be made to councils to enter initial formal discussions, rising to £2.5million per year as the design/planning process begins

national geological screening will take place before 2016 so that possible locations can be ruled in or out early in the process.

communities will have the right of withdrawal from discussions at any stage before the test of public support

community benefits “might include” improved education and skills investment, transport infrastructure and recreation facilities.

Primary discussions are set to take place between now and 2016, with formal discussions to follow for communities that volunteer.

Energy secretary Ed Davey said: “Geological disposal provides the secure, long-term solution we need to deal with the radioactive waste we have been creating for more than 60 years, and we can learn from the experiences of other countries who are also doing this.

“Building and running a GDF will be a multi-billion-pound infrastructure project, which will bring significant economic benefits to a community.

“We’re setting out our plan to find a suitable site, based on a fundamental principle of listening to people, to make sure we have the right process in place.

“The area that eventually hosts a GDF will benefit from significant investment in the community and hundreds of skilled jobs for decades to come.”

Under the previous Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process, Cumbria County Council’s “no” vote in January 2013 to proceed to the next stage ended Copeland and Allerdale’s involvement against their wishes.

Now, DECC says: “All levels of local government will have to have a voice but we are keen that no one individual level will have an absolute veto.”

The new process has incorporated feedback gathered after the failed MRWS.

The government will now form a community representation working group to lay out how the process will be taken forward, including the specifics of how communities volunteer and what format the test of public support will take.

The construction of the disposal facility would guarantee around 570 jobs for decades to come and around 1,000 jobs during the construction phase – but it might not be ready until 2050 at the earliest.

Have your say

Well, Michael, you obviously do not understand the change yet. The geology MUST be right before any area can accept the nuclear waste dump. As most people who have worked in mining in the area (both coal and iron ore) will tell you, the geology here is not right for the job. At least that will be a decision taken away from the likes of you.

However, if the Government decide to dump the waste on Whitehaven, they will do it.

Posted by Orange peel on 13 August 2014 at 15:24

At last the Government has got it right. The people of the affected community will decide. Not Allerdale, not Copeland, not Cumbria - they are Council areas, not communities.

Posted by Michael on 7 August 2014 at 10:24

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