AROUND 120 new construction jobs look set after planners gave the go-ahead to two low-level radioactive waste vaults in West Cumbria.

The decision will also secure existing posts and ensure the future of the LLW Repository site, near Drigg, until around 2050. Work is expected to start next year.

Cumbria County Council planners also agreed an extension to a third vault for the disposal of waste in specially-grouted containers.

Dennis Thompson, managing director of LLW Repository Ltd, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the outcome.

"After three years of hard work, millions of pounds of investment, utilising dozens of technical and scientific experts, we submitted a substantive technical document that makes the case that it is safe to dispose of low level waste (LLW) at the site.

“We submitted this case to the Environment Agency, and they did the same thing. They spent an additional three years reviewing it in detail. Every calculation, every model, every assumption was re-reviewed by the EA and their experts and they concluded that the case is made. It is safe to dispose of LLW at the LLWR both now and centuries into the future.”

Planning permission also allows the construction of a final cap over existing and new vaults as well as seven clay-lined trenches, where waste was disposed of prior to the opening of the site’s first vault in 1988.

LLWR said the "construction phase impacts will be carefully managed and monitored to ensure minimum disruption to local residents''.

Dr Richard Cummings, head of science and engineering at LLWR, said: “We have no greater priority than the safety of people and the environment, which is why such a huge amount of work went in over three years to produce our Environmental Safety Case (ESC), on which our planning application was based.

“We had 80 technical experts working on it and considered environmental safety now and up to thousands of years into the future. The ESC comprised 17 reports and a non-technical summary, plus a further 100 underpinning reports.

"When complete, it was subject to independent review by the Environment Agency, who concluded we had met their very stringent safety requirements and it was safe to continue to dispose of low level waste at the Repository.”