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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Deadline extended for people to air views on nuclear storage site

THE deadline for people to have their say on how the government will search for a massive underground nuclear storage site has been extended.

Public consultation on the process to find somewhere to keep high-level atomic waste was supposed to end on Thursday. However, a technical glitch at the Department of Energy and Climate Change has meant some responses were not received on time. The cut-off for opinions will now run until December 19.

A formal government response would be released within 12 weeks of the cut-off date.

Cumbria County Council and Allerdale Council each submitted responses ahead of the original deadline date and Copeland said its response would be lodged on the day.

Allerdale is calling for a national geological survey and a referendum in the affected communities before any decision is taken on the site.

In Copeland, the response has been written by council leader Elaine Woodburn, opposition leader David Moore and chief executive Paul Walker. It was being circulated among councillors last night and due to be made public today.

The prospect of a new process being used to find possible geological disposal facility locations has triggered fierce debate in Cumbria.

The county council controversially rejected progressing with searching for potential locations this year. However, Allerdale and Copeland councils wanted to continue. Progress was dependent on county and district authorities agreeing.

Fresh government proposals for a new process would remove the county council’s right to veto.

Among those formally responding to the proposals this week is the environmental campaign group Three Weeks to Save the Lakes. The group fear opponents of the proposals could be sidelined.

A number of organisations argue that a referendum of residents in the whole of Cumbria should be held.

The British Geological Survey has carried out a screening exercise that has already ruled out a quarter of Allerdale and Copeland.

Much of the rest of the potential places are within the Lake District National Park. That leaves a coastal strip between Egremont and Drigg, a part of the Solway Plain west of Abbeytown and a corridor just outside the national park from Egremont through Cockermouth to Thursby.

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