The Government is expected to announce plans today to re-open the search for a host community for a controversial underground nuclear waste dump in Cumbria.

Sources within Copeland council, the nuclear industry and Government have confirmed that the Department for Business, Energy and Nuclear Strategy will make a statement at around 2.30pm today.

Council chiefs at Copeland have as yet expressed “no preference” for the whereabouts of a repository for radioactive materials.

But speaking at a meeting yesterday of the authority’s Strategic Nuclear and Energy Board, the council’s chief executive Pat Graham warned that the borough will be affected whatever the outcome because the waste is “already here” [at Sellafield].

From today the council is expected to roll out a programme of member workshops to thrash out a formal position.

Confirming Copeland’s current position after the meeting, a spokesman said: “The council supports the Government's approach to the safe disposal of higher radioactive wastes through the provision of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) and, as host community for the vast majority of the wastes that would be disposed of in the GDF, we will continue to press the Government to progress the process, recognising the risk to the environment and local communities that the current interim storage of this waste and the continued delay in bringing forward a site for a GDF, presents.

“At this stage, the council has no preference or position with regard to the location of the GDF locally or nationally but recognise that the Copeland community is affected regardless of the final choice of site for a GDF.

“The council takes the view that the current planning assumption date for the provision of the GDF of 2040 is unrealistic and will seek from Government a more realistic timescale and information on what the plans are for long-term storage of these waste materials.”