Villages say no to N-waste
Last updated at 12:14, Thursday, 12 April 2012
THREE parish councils close to Sellafield have said an initial ‘no’ to West Cumbria being explored to find a suitable place to site highly radioactive waste.
Gosforth, Beckermet and Ponsonby have all given the thumbs down to the process being extended to an actual search for a safe and suitable location deep underground in Copeland or Allerdale.
It follows the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safety Partnership’s extensive consultation asking the public’s views on whether the area should take part in the search for a repository location. This is without any commitment to have it and the right to withdraw.
Safety, community benefits and the geology of the area have been big issues in the consultation, which drew about 1,300 responses.
The government has promised a package of benefits to an area where a repository is built.
Ponsonby Parish Council says parishes should be involved in the allocation and use of community benefits.
It said: “The parish council has received ‘nowt’ from the nuclear industry over the years from the establishment of UKAEA at Windscale; rather it has suffered from the loss of its local school, post office and pub.
“It has also experienced the drain of local youngsters unable to afford the rents and house prices which can be afforded by incoming contracted employees.
“The village community has lost its heart.”
Ponsonby is against Copeland and Allerdale being involved in the search for somewhere to put a repository until the decision making bodies have addressed certain issues.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of the current and future inhabitants of West Cumbria are of fundamental importance as we are all stewards of the West Cumbrian environment with an obligation to protect it from harm,” says Ponsonby claiming: “The location of a repository in West Cumbria will further discourage the investment of non-nuclear enterprises not only within the proximity of the proposed site but also throughout Lakeland.”
Public and stakeholders concerns over geology had not been fully and adequately answered - “two professors of geology have stated publicly that the complex and fractured geology of West Cumbria makes it one of the worst places in the UK for a long timescale disposal site,” the Ponsonby response points out.
At Gosforth, where there was strong opposition to Nirex building a repository at Longlands Farm, the parish councillors now have “serious concerns about the impacts a repository would have on West Cumbria and also regarding potential community benefits.
“Early discussions about benefits packages could be exploited to gain acceptance of a repository by the general public while at the same time portraying the engagement process as a done deal... the cart must not come before the horse.
“Any agreement with government relating to the benefits packages especially given the likely inter-generational aspects of such packages must be legally binding before any work commences.”
Gosforth PC also maintains: “The results from the 1990 NIREX investigation indicate that the area of land suitable for investigations (Longlands, Gosforth) is at best severely curtailed and at worst non-existent.”
Overall the council says the geology of the area “seems most unlikely to provide the geological setting required to give assurances about the safety of a repository over a span of many tens of thousands of years.
“Your (The Partnerships) inability to represent the geological facts in a balanced manner implying a more positive picture than represented by the underpinning documents and independent comments only serves to increase concerns about long term and very long term safety.”
Any future process would need more time and funds for any site location work - and also for holding a referendum.
Nearby Beckermet parish council has also answered ‘no’ to the Partnership’s question ‘should Allerdale and Copeland take part in the search?’
Councillors there are still looking for answers to a lot of questions and concerns such as “while the work undertaken so far was satisfactory, the information offered is incredibly limited... it is disappointing that no attempt has been made to indicate what type of geology would be preferred or what would be the show stoppers.”
The need for a national repository was recognised but “the process described is unfair particularly towards the eventual host community...it seems to seek to draw the community into the process with minimal say in the matter; and a benefits package to be negotiated only after agreement to host. The local population would not have a direct vote on the matter.”
It would be ludicrous if negotiations of a detailed benefits package only take place after an agreement to proceed, Beckermet argues.
The parish council stresses: “The host community is described as being a local village or small town.
“While a wider area may be impacted to a small degree there is the potential for such marginal areas to get a disproportionate share of benefits and for the areas that are really impacted to lose out.”
West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership’s final report following the consultation is likely to be sent to Copeland and Allerdale borough councils along with the county council in the summer for a formal decision to be made about whether to take part in a site search.
Chairman Tim Knowles says: “Although the government say there would be the right to withdraw if the councils take part in the search the decision that needs to be made now is an important one - it is vital that whatever we decide to do is supported by local people.”
First published at 12:00, Thursday, 12 April 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
I think it's a little naive to think that only a handful of local boroughs should have a say on this. It is not just a Copeland matter. This issue reaches far out across all Cumbria to Scotland and down in to Lancashire and to the Isle of Man. We should all have a say. It's being treated like a local planning issue when in fact if God forbid something went wrong with the place in the next 24,000 years the whole area for hundreds of miles might be devasted. Whether your living 5 miles away or 50 with nuclear it makes no difference.
I'm sure that there's a multi-millionaire in or around the London area with a few thousand hectares he can spare, store it down there.
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