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Welcome

A warm welcome to the South Copeland GDF Community Partnership website and thank you for taking the time to visit.

Here you can access a range of resources and information, and our latest News, to help you understand more about the Community Partnership and Geological Disposal, including what a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) is, why it is required, and what it means for our community.

You can also find out about the Marine Geophysical Survey happening along our coastline this summer.

Residents in the Search Area make the decision as to whether or not they want a Geological Disposal Facility, and the Community Partnership’s role is to ensure that the community has all of the relevant information that they need about the process.

We are also here to advise on how groups can apply for Community Investment Funding as we continue to explore the subject with the public.

I am looking forward to meeting with people in the local community and listening to their views, and I encourage anyone who has questions or comments to get in touch via the Contact Us page. You can also sign up to receive the latest updates from us below.

Ged McGrath – Chair

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What is
a GDF?

A Geological Disposal Facility, or GDF, is an underground facility designed to safely and securely dispose of our radioactive waste – specifically ‘higher-activity’ waste (the most radioactive kind).

It involves building a series of specially designed and engineered vaults and tunnels deep underground. It could potentially be three times deeper than the height of the Shard in London, Britain’s tallest building.

Once the waste is placed inside a GDF, the facility will eventually be permanently sealed. The way the facility is designed and engineered means it can be sealed to protect people and the environment for hundreds of thousands of years, without needing any maintenance, while the radioactivity fades away naturally.

Making sure
it is safe

Scientists and other authorities all over the world agree that a GDF is the safest way to deal with ‘higher-activity’ radioactive waste (the most radioactive kind) for the long term. This international consensus comes after decades of scientific research.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency will review the designs for a GDF, the proposed site, and the science that informs them, to make sure it protects people and the environment. A GDF will only be built if it can be shown to be safe for both people and the environment. As soon as construction starts on a GDF, the site will have to meet strict safety standards.

Which area is
being considered?

A Search Area that includes the electoral wards of Millom and Black Combe & Scafell is being investigated.

No areas which fall within the Lake District National Park or 2019 extension proposal will be considered to host a GDF.

No areas which fall within current or future coal mines will be considered to host a GDF.

The Copeland GDF Working Group recommended that the investigation initially focuses on the deep geology within the inshore area up to 22km beyond the coast.

A Marine Geophysical Survey is taking place this summer to assess its suitability.

Further information can be found in the Finding a suitable site tab.

Who is part of the South Copeland GDF Community Partnership?

A Community Partnership must have at least one relevant principal local authority, alongside the developer and members of the community and individuals. The aim is for the membership to be reflective of the local community in the Search Area.

The initial South Copeland GDF Community Partnership comprises:

  • Chair – Ged McGrath
  • Representation from a relevant principal local authority – which currently includes Copeland Borough Council
  • Representation from the developer Nuclear Waste Services (NWS)
  • Community representatives including local councillors
  • Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC)

The main objective for the Community Partnership within the first 3 months of formation will be to begin the process to recruit other members for the Community Partnership, which will include the Chair.

A Selection Panel will identify prospective members for the Community Partnership, they will consider the types of skills, knowledge and experience that the Community Partnership will need.

Community
and choice

The Community Partnership will continue the conversations that the Working Group started, and work to develop a vision for the future of the community and provide answers to people’s questions.

Then much later, when everyone’s had plenty of time to get informed and make up their minds, there will be a Test of Public Support. This will take the form of something like a poll or referendum that lets every voter in the electoral wards around the proposed site have their say about a GDF. Without their support, the project will not go ahead.

What is
a GDF?

A Geological Disposal Facility, or GDF, is an underground facility designed to safely and securely dispose of our radioactive waste – specifically ‘higher-activity’ waste (the most radioactive kind).

It involves building a series of specially designed and engineered vaults and tunnels deep underground. It could potentially be three times deeper than the height of the Shard in London, Britain’s tallest building.

Once the waste is placed inside a GDF, the facility will eventually be permanently sealed. The way the facility is designed and engineered means it can be sealed to protect people and the environment for hundreds of thousands of years, without needing any maintenance, while the radioactivity fades away naturally.

Making sure
it is safe

Scientists and other authorities all over the world agree that a GDF is the safest way to deal with ‘higher-activity’ radioactive waste (the most radioactive kind) for the long term. This international consensus comes after decades of scientific research.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency will review the designs for a GDF, the proposed site, and the science that informs them, to make sure it protects people and the environment. A GDF will only be built if it can be shown to be safe for both people and the environment. As soon as construction starts on a GDF, the site will have to meet strict safety standards.

Which area is
being considered?

A Search Area that includes the electoral wards of Millom and Black Combe & Scafell is being investigated.

No areas which fall within the Lake District National Park or 2019 extension proposal will be considered to host a GDF.

No areas which fall within current or future coal mines will be considered to host a GDF.

The Copeland GDF Working Group recommended that the investigation initially focuses on the deep geology within the inshore area up to 22km beyond the coast.

A Marine Geophysical Survey is taking place this summer to assess its suitability.

Further information can be found in the Finding a suitable site tab.

Who is part of the South Copeland GDF Community Partnership?

A Community Partnership must have at least one relevant principal local authority, alongside the developer and members of the community and individuals. The aim is for the membership to be reflective of the local community in the Search Area.

The initial South Copeland GDF Community Partnership comprises:

  • Chair – Ged McGrath
  • Representation from a relevant principal local authority – which currently includes Copeland Borough Council
  • Representation from the developer Nuclear Waste Services (NWS)
  • Community representatives including local councillors
  • Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC)

The main objective for the Community Partnership within the first 3 months of formation will be to begin the process to recruit other members for the Community Partnership, which will include the Chair.

A Selection Panel will identify prospective members for the Community Partnership, they will consider the types of skills, knowledge and experience that the Community Partnership will need.

Community
and choice

The Community Partnership will continue the conversations that the Working Group started, and work to develop a vision for the future of the community and provide answers to people’s questions.

Then much later, when everyone’s had plenty of time to get informed and make up their minds, there will be a Test of Public Support. This will take the form of something like a poll or referendum that lets every voter in the electoral wards around the proposed site have their say about a GDF. Without their support, the project will not go ahead.

Overview of siting process

This interactive diagram explains more about the GDF siting process.

Overview of siting process

This interactive diagram explains more about the GDF siting process.

Your Community Partnership will:

Agree a programme of activities

Agree a programme of activities

A Programme of Activities is the work that will be carried out by the Community Partnership in order to learn more about a GDF and what this may mean for this community.

Provide guidance for access to Community Investment Funding

Provide guidance for access to Community Investment Funding

Community Investment Funding recognises the long-term nature of the GDF project, and that the benefits associated with jobs, infrastructure and major investment may not materialise until the project has been running for several years. The South Copeland community will initially have access to £1 million per year, rising to £2.5 million per year if the project progresses to technical investigations requiring deep boreholes.

Share information, listen to and address community questions

Share information, listen to and address community questions

The Partnership is primarily here to be the key vehicle for dialogue with the South Copeland local community and the GDF developer, in a process that will take several years. We are here to continue the conversation with local people and enable them to find out more, explore the issues, and continue to have their questions answered.

Advise on community Right of Withdrawal and Test of Public Support

Advise on community Right of Withdrawal and Test of Public Support

The residents of the area around any proposed GDF site would have the final say on whether they want to host a facility, in what is known as a Test of Public Support, and the Community Partnership will oversee this. The elected local authorities on the Partnership can also withdraw the area at any point in this process, right up until the Test of Public Support.