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Saturday, 22 November 2014

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Copeland politicians meet government ministers to discuss future for nuclear waste

FOLLOWING the decision not to proceed with plans for a nuclear storage facility in Cumbria, Copeland politicians met with senior government figures to address the issue.

Local MP Jamie Reed and Elaine Woodburn, leader of Copeland Borough Council, were among those to meet the secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey.

They discussed the outcome of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process, which ended with a no vote from Cumbria County Council last month.

Mr Reed said: “The meeting with Ed Davey and Baroness Verma was very encouraging – it's clear that the Sellafield workforce, Copeland and Allerdale Borough Councils and the government have a shared understanding about the problems surrounding radioactive waste management and of the need to move forward quickly.

“It's equally clear that government welcomes continued discussions with committed, informed, credible partners and that our Copeland and Allerdale councils are now in a much stronger position than they were before the County Council voted against its own policies.

“The MRWS process in Cumbria is dead. The problem of radioactive waste management at Sellafield intensifies as a result and a new process is obviously now required.”

Cllr Woodburn said: “We welcome the government’s continuing commitment and recognition of the need to have a credible long term disposal solution to the higher activity waste.

“We believe there is a need to review the MRWS process and lessons can be learnt both at national and local level and we will be ensuring our views are fed into the government’s review.

“We are currently left in limbo with no long term disposal route for the waste that exists here, so we will continue to work with the government and not be distracted by those whose self-appointed role is to derail the whole nuclear agenda.

“The community of Copeland is our priority and we will strive to gather the facts that allows them to make their own mind up, about whether Copeland could offer the final solution to the disposal of nuclear waste.”

Energy minister Baroness Verma was also at the meeting.

She added: “It was helpful for the Secretary of State and I to meet today with the leaders of the two borough councils (Elaine Woodburn of Copeland and Alan Smith of Allerdale), two Cumbrian MPs (Jamie Reed and Sir Tony Cunningham) and a representative from the Sellafield Workers Campaign (Craig Dobson).

“We were clear that because of the County Council’s decision not to proceed to the next stage, the current site selection process has ended in west Cumbria. However it is right that we remain engaged with local leaders on these issues, partly to learn the lessons of the MRWS process in Cumbria, and partly because they have an ongoing interest in the management of the waste held in interim storage at Sellafield.

“The MRWS programme continues, and we are keen for communities elsewhere in the country to express an interest in joining it. We will also be considering whether any changes are required to the process.”

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