The nuclear industry is woven into the very fabric of West Cumbria, playing an important part in helping deliver clean energy to the UK for the past seven decades. It is also part of our immediate future, with decommissioning of the Sellafield Ltd site set to last for decades. We also hope, as set out in our Copeland Vision 2040, to attract the next generation of nuclear reactors to the area.
We host 70% of the country’s nuclear waste at Sellafield. While it is being safely monitored and protected, a long-term solution must be found. The government has decided the way to deal with that high level waste is to place it in a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) built deep underground in solid rock. Whether a GDF is eventually sited here or not we will feel its impact, the nuclear waste will need to be transported to wherever the GDF is eventually sited.
As a council we decided it was important to be part of the Community Partnership, to be part of the conversation as it will affect us whatever happens. This does not mean the council is in favour of a GDF. That’s a decision much further down the road for the community it could affect. As part of the Community Partnership, we can oversee the work that is being done to ensure the best interests of our community are properly considered. As an elected representative with many years of service, the needs of our community are of great importance to me.
This is not a done deal, far from it. The government is looking for a willing community to host the GDF, but this will only become an option once all necessary checks have taken place. A process that will take years. We wouldn’t support the process if we were not satisfied that it provides for genuine engagement with local people and gives those people the right to say no.
What we provide in the Community Partnership is a dispassionate, measured consideration of the facts so we can give our community credible evidence and real information. We want you to be fully informed about what is going on.
This is a long-term process, and we are only at the very start of it. The Community Partnerships are doing what they can to help people get the information they need about what hosting a GDF would mean – the positive impacts and the negative.
I hope people in our communities will continue to engage positively with us and enable the case for hosting a GDF in West Cumbria to be properly examined in an open-minded way so all of us can reach considered views about whether it is something our community would support.
Councillor David Moore
Deputy Mayor & Portfolio Holder for Nuclear & Corporate Services
Copeland Borough Council