A MARINE geophysical survey is starting off the coast of Mid and South Copeland and it is set to continue for around three weeks.

It’s part of the work being undertaken to help determine whether the area could be suitable to host a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).

A GDF is an underground facility designed dispose of higher activity radioactive waste. Mid and South Copeland are two of the areas being for a GDF in England or Wales.

The Mid Copeland GDF Community Partnership and the South Copeland GDF Community Partnership are two separate groups each made up of members including the GDF developer, the local authority and community members.

The Mid Copeland Search Area includes the district electoral wards of Gosforth and Seascale and Beckermet, while the South Copeland Search Area includes the district electoral wards of Millom and Black Combe and Scafell.

Deep geology beyond the coast is being considered for siting the underground elements of a GDF.

The marine geophysical survey is using a vessel, operating beyond the coastline. The technology used is based on sound waves – similar to ultrasound imaging used for medical purposes - which are reflected as an echo from different geological layers.

The seabed remains undisturbed throughout the survey.

The GDF developer is working with marine regulators and marine representative bodies, plus other stakeholders, to keep marine users and local communities informed. Commercial fishing operations have been notified about the survey and the GDF developer has developed a marine cooperation scheme for businesses which may be affected. The survey will not affect the normal use of local beaches.

Chair of Mid Copeland, Andy Pratt, and Chair of South Copeland, Ged McGrath, said: “The Mid and South Copeland GDF Community Partnerships acknowledge that there have been some local concerns expressed around the subject of the marine geophysical survey, commissioned by the GDF developer.

“The survey is an essential part of the investigative work being undertaken by the GDF developer to determine whether locations within Mid or South Copeland could be suitable to host a GDF.

“We’ve been assured by the GDF developer that it has carried out the required environmental assessments, obtaining all the necessary permissions and it will work to minimise the impact of these surveys on marine life by following relevant UK guidance.”

The contractor who will undertake the survey will also aim to remove old fishing gear and debris from the sea during operations.