A MAJOR ‘park and ride’ facility for Sellafield workers next to the village of Cleator has been given the green light by Copeland councillors despite concerns.

The 600-space car park is intended to slash commuter traffic on the A595, cut the number of cars on-site and ease pressure on Copeland’s road network.

The plans were lodged by land owners Newgates Estates Ltd though the car park would be used by nuclear workers and site visitors.

Under the proposal, shuttle buses would operate between the facility and Sellafield, picking up and dropping off workers covering the three main working shift patterns.

But Copeland councillor Andy Pratt said he was “concerned” that the plans might create problems elsewhere on Cumbria’s road network.

He said: “They say it is going to relieve pressure on the A595. Where are the 600 cars going to come from? On which rat run are they going to come through to park there if they are not coming down the A595? Are they going to come down the road from Cockermouth?”

Responding to his question, senior planning officer Heather Morrison confirmed that the park and ride was primarily for use by Cockermouth and Carlisle Sellafield employees, in a bid to catch them before they hit the A595.

Panel members also raised concerns over possible traffic congestion close to the site and the effect on Cleator residents.

However, councillors still voted to approve the plans after hearing from planning chiefs who had recommended approval.

Coun Doug Wilson said: “I just think if I was living in that area, I would hate to have that 600 car park behind my house.”

Coun Brian O’Kane added: “I’m surprised there has been no objections from anybody in terms of traffic movement. I can see the logic of putting 600 cars in one place and shuttling them to Sellafield but I keep wondering if there could have been a better area for this.”

Highways England and the local Highways authority had no objections to the plans.

Planning chiefs told councillors that the Kangol site had been one of several options and was thought to be one of the better ones.

Officers also stressed that 600 was an “absolute maximum” number of cars, and there was “highly unlikely” to be that many cars at any one time.

Cleator Moor Town had expressed concerns that the development is “pushing” a Sellafield problem onto their community without any financial renumeration.

They also claimed the car park would spoil the look of the area though planning chiefs insisted landscaping would “enhance” the appearance of the site.

Following concerns from residents about speeding, Sellafield has issued a request to their workforce to try and influence driving behaviour.

The company has also pledged to keep a “watching brief” on the situation while traffic calming measures form part of the plans.

The facility would also be surrounded by security fencing and lighting, and it is “likely” it would be manned around the clock.