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Friday, 18 April 2014

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West Cumbria nuclear dump decision ‘biggest Cumbria has faced’

THE people most affected by the prospect of having highly radioactive nuclear waste buried in their area should have the largest voice, Copeland council leader Elaine Woodburn said at a special meeting.

And at the borough council meeting in Whitehaven on Wednesday, considering arguments for and against trying to find somewhere in West Cumbria for the facility, Cllr Woodburn highlighted a recent independent opinion poll showing 60 per cent of Copeland residents are in favour of starting a search for a suitable site.

But she stressed: “If the geology is not right then no repository will be constructed here.

“If Copeland decides to participate it would not be agreeing to have a repository but to carry on investigations and further discussions.”

She believed Copeland should have control over its own destiny, while recognising potential impacts beyond the borough boundaries.

Leading councillors of Cumbria county, Copeland and Allerdale councils are due to make the final decision on October 11, but they could also consider an option to put it off for three months.

It has emerged, following private talks in London this week between the three council leaders and Baroness Verma of the Department of Energy, that the decision may be delayed until January.

Egremont Labour councillor Karl Connor said last night: “This is my understanding but whenever the decision takes place it will be the single biggest
decision ever taken in Cumbria. So much rests on the call – yes or no – and the whole economic future of West Cumbria is in the hands of the executive of this council and their counterparts in Allerdale and county.’’

Sellafield Workers’ Campaign also made a plea for a desktop geological survey through Egremont councillor and trades union activist Sam Pollen.

“We are concerned,” said Cllr Pollen, “that the county council are considering to vote against going to the next stage.

“This would be the wrong decision for Cumbria.’’

Although no potential sites have yet been identified there is speculation that the picturesque Eskdale and Ennerdale area might eventually be explored.

Most councillors spoke in favour of starting a search but were not allowed to take a vote or make a recommendation to the executive which will make its decision, either on October 11, or later.

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