Nuclear Dump Shepherds? Lake District National Park

Following criticism by Radiation Free Lakeland and others of the National Park’s complicity in the push for geological dumping of nuclear wastes under Cumbria the National Park has sent a letter to DECC. This is a purely tactical move to try to save face while not actually changing their position. The chair of the Authority, Bill Jefferson is from Silloth, an area which has angrily woken up to the reality that they are one of the areas in Cumbria being eyed up for having the worlds nuclear waste beneath them. Mr Jefferson is looking to appease his Silloth constituents with this letter and show “concern” while actually neatly toeing the government line and going along with the plan. The only caveats the NP have made are that the above surface facilities should not be in view from the National Park and that the dump doesn’t interfere with the “brand” too much. Why not actually protect Cumbria? We know the geology is wrong and we know that the NP should say a strong and vehement NO now. They are abusing their position as protectors and instead are acting as accomplices in the government’s plan.. Only a no will stand any chance…

The crazy support for new build is way off the remit of a national park. New build would produce wastes much hotter than existing wastes, needing to be cooled by Lakeland’s fragile fresh water resource for 150 years or so.

Full letter from the LDNPA to DECC below

Date: 26 November 2012

Baroness Verma of Leicester
Parliamentary under Secretary of State
Department of Energy & Climate Change
3 Whitehall Place

Dear Baroness Verma

MRWS: A view from the Lake District National Park

The current pause in the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process offers me
an opportunity to reaffirm my position with regard to the views we’ve expressed so
far and to look to the longer term.

National Parks are recognised as landscapes of exceptional beauty, fashioned by
nature and the communities which live in them. The statutory purposes of National
Parks are to:

* Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage
(of National Parks); and

* Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of the special
qualities by the public.

In pursuing the statutory purposes National Park Authorities have a duty to seek to
foster the economic and social well-being of local communities.

Special qualities distinguish National Parks from each other and from other parts of
the country. The Lake District’s special qualities, outlined in the Lake District
National Park Partnership Plan, need to be protected and enhanced.

The 2030 Vision for the Lake District National Park is clear, interpreting the
purposes and duty, and requires all partners to the Lake District National Park
Partnership to be united in this achievement.

A repository within Cumbria has the potential to impact on our Vision, special
qualities, and in turn our statutory purposes.

– 2 –

The Authority joined the MRWS Partnership to:

* improve its understanding of the requirements of a repository;

* understand the process;

* work with partners to prepare a report for presenting to the Decision
Making Bodies[1]; (DMBs) and

* to help inform them about whether to participate in the next stage of the
siting process (Stage 4) .

We submitted views to the MRWS Partnership as part of the public consultation in
February 2012. These were based on what was known at the time, particularly in
relation to surface facilities, and are attached as Annex 1. These views were
incorporated into the final report.

Since that time the DMBs have decided to seek further information and clarity from
DECC. I commend and support this decision, particularly with regard to the
following issues:

* The suitability of the geology. This remains of paramount concern to me
and residents of the National Park due to a lack of definitive information. The
complexity of the underlying geology, the conclusions from the NIREX inquiry, the
permeability of different rock systems and hydrology all create a context of great
uncertainty and anxiety; and

* The right of withdrawal. Rightly or wrongly there is scepticism from
communities and an absence of trust. Therefore I support the DMBs request that this
be strengthened, making it legally binding.

I also believe that this process will take a substantial amount of time, and so
support the DMBs’ request that alternative radioactive waste management solutions be
considered in parallel with the MRWS programme. And I ask that current storage
issues are urgently addressed.

Below ground repository

So far the Authority has not taken a definitive position on a below ground
repository because we do not know the facts and risks in detail and we accept that a
full understanding might only emerge many years in the future.

However there are growing and increasingly widespread concerns that a repository
below the National Park or indeed a perception of such a proposal would not be in
the long term interests of the Lake District, its farming and resident communities
and visitor economy. Evidence suggests a potential risk to the Lake District’s brand
image, and on communities that rely on this brand. The lengthy process, necessary
for considering such a facility, could exacerbate this risk. While we do not know
what precise impacts a repository under the National Park would have on its special
qualities, I am concerned such a proposal could adversely affect the Lake District’s
brand image, its national and international standing, reputation and integrity,
prejudicing the delivery of the Vision to the detriment of the Cumbrian tourism
economy and our statutory responsibilities.

– 3 –

Although we remain wholly committed to working with the DMBs and other partners to
improve our collective understanding of the facts, I believe that it is important
that partners and other interested organisations understand these concerns and our
starting position if any decision is taken to proceed to Stage 4. I support the
on-going brand management work and stress its importance. I also reiterate our
support for nuclear new build at Sellafield whilst re-emphasising that attention
must be given to the rapid improvement of the current storage facilities.

Yours sincerely




Cc: Eddie Martin -Leader, Cumbria County Council

Elaine Woodburn – Leader, Copeland Borough Council

Alan Smith – Leader, Allerdale Borough Council

Mark Higson – CEO of the Office for Nuclear Development

[1] The Decision Making Bodies (DMBs) are Cumbria County Council, Allerdale Borough
Council and Copeland Borough Council
Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria, CA14 3YJ

One thought on “Nuclear Dump Shepherds? Lake District National Park

  1. Pingback: No Nuclear Forests! Out of Your Tree Week « Radiation Free Lakeland

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