Nuclear Waste Dump at the Port of Workington “Permitted Development” say Cumbria County Council.

Drone Image anonymously sent to Radiation Free Lakeland showing approximately 160 containers at Cyclife, Lillyhall, Near Workington during June 2021

Cumbria County Council have said that the storing of up to 80 containers of radioactive scrap metal at the Port of Workington is “permitted development” requiring no discussion or vote. Our reply urges the Council to discuss this shocking plan and hold a full vote. The latest letter to the Council from us is below along with the full correspondence including the latest drone image sent to us anonymously showing as many as 160 containers of radioactive scrap metal at the Lillyhall Cyclife radioactive “metal recycling facility” near Workington.

sent today by email to Cumbria County Council, copied to Cumbrian MPs including the MP for Workington Mark Jennings, and Allerdale Borough Council.

Dear Leader of Cumbria County Council c/o Joanne Coyles

Thank you for your reply to our email asking why there has been no vote on the plan by Cyclife/EDF to store up to 80 containers of “low level” radioactive wastes at the Port of Workington.

“Permitted Development”

You say the decision to allow the plan to go ahead as “permitted development” is because you have been advised that this is “low level” nuclear wastes and that the Environment Agency have given a permit to Cyclife.   The Environment Agency and Cyclife themselves admit that there would be unknown “hot spots” within the metals stored at the Port of Workington.  The metal scrap from decommissioning nuclear plants that is found to be too radioactive to be treated at the Cyclife plant would be shipped to their sister plant in Sweden. The Cyclife Application acknowledges that there would be “hot spots’ in the metal housed  in the shipping containers of up to 1000Bq/g 

“Chemical and physical details of the radioactive waste -.. The waste will be of nuclear origin, from either decommissioning activities or routine arisings and have an average specific activity of less than 100 Bq/g with a maximum for a hotspot of 1000 Bq/g.”  The application includes the full range of radionuclides including plutonium.


There is no guarantee that the limit in the shipping  containers would be the already generous “hot spot” 1000 Bq/g as described by Cyclife. In reality there is likely to be undetected heavy radioactive material in the containers source and some of that could well be in powder form which is a lot more risky to contain (near a residential area) than solid lumps of metal. 

Notwithstanding the “hotspots” even “low level” wastes are harmful to human health and the environment which is why the Low Level Waste Repository at Drigg pays out “£1.5m a year for every year that the repository is operating; in addition to an initial endowment of £10 m.”  Health and the environment come cheap in Cumbria when it comes to nuclear impacts.  People who have experience (which is too many) will testify that £millions are no compensation for a child’s cancer or other radiaton linked disease.  The industry itself has a Compensation Scheme for nuclear workers for cancers caused by low level radiation, will this scheme be extended to the general public living 500 metres from a permanent “low level” nuclear waste storage area at the Port of Workington?   

Nuclear “Business as Usual”

Will farmers be compensated for the loss of confidence in agricultural feed coming through a Port which is nuclear waste site?  Will paper companies producing packaging for food products be compensated for the loss of confidence in their raw product which has come through a Port which is a nuclear waste site?   This is “business as usual” as far as the out of control nuclear industry is concerned.  Tim Knowles, the County Council’s former cabinet member responsible for nuclear issues has said : Nothing would kill its reputation quicker than making it yet another dumping ground in the increasing spread of nuclear waste sites. Surely keeping the waste at Sellafield and Drigg should be enough. Spreading it to Lillyhall and the Port of Workington damages Allerdale’s image as well. Isn’t having Copeland known as “The World’s Nuclear Dustbin” bad enough?..” 

Freeport Status for Workington Means Cyclife Would Pay Nothing for Nuclear Waste Store

Far from paying for the outrageous and dangerous privilege of making the Port of Workington a “low level” nuclear waste dump, Cyclife/EDF would pay nothing.  “Companies operating within freeports can benefit from deferring the payment of taxes until products are moved elsewhere, or can avoid taxes altogether if they bring in goods to store or manufacture on site before exporting them again.  Freeports are what promoters outline as areas that can attract investment to struggling former industrial zones: the counter-argument being that such low tax, low intervention areas divert revenues and are hard to regulate.  In the case of Cyclife and the Port of Workington the nuclear waste issue is out of control – on purpose?

No Limit on Radioactive Scrap Metal Containers at Lillyhall in Original Planning Approval?

The reason Cyclife want to use the Port of Workington is because the Lillyhall plant is overflowing with 160 shipping containers seen at the last count. We attach another anonymously sent drone image which confirms this, with containers stacked four high.  You have replied that the original planning approval in 2007 gave no limit on the number of containers.  One of our members was at that planning meeting as a member of the public (Radiation Free Lakeland was formed in 2008) and clearly remembers the councillors discussing the documents which showed placement for 15 half size shipping containers.  The plan also stated that there would be no more than two lorry deliveries a day – locals often see more than two lorries queuing to go into the Lillyhall site with container loads of radioactive scrap metal.  It is inconceivable that councillors would actually say yes to “unlimited” numbers of containers of radioactive scrap metal on the Lillyhall site especially given the vehement opposition to Cyclife opening in the first place from local businesses including large employers such as Iggesund.  


Again we urge Cumbria County Council to hold a vote on this issue and allow full discussion by councillors.  Experts independent of the nuclear industry should be allowed to speak to Councillors to tell them of the health and environment implications of allowing what is effectively a nuclear waste dump at the Port of Workington.

Yours sincerely

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland

Attached – drone image anonymously sent to Radiation Free Lakeland showing containers of radioactive waste scrap metal, approx 160 containers stacked four high at the Cyclife plant, Lillyhall, Near Workington.  


LLW Drigg Copeland Community Fund.

Compensation Scheme for Radiation Linked Diseases

Former Nuclear Issues County Councillor Tim Knowles Letter to the News and Star

Your weekend edition front page story “Fears over ‘dangers’ of nuclear waste plan” implied that anti-nuclear campaigners environmentalists were opposed to the project.

It is not just the campaigners who are opposed to it.

I live locally and spent 20 years in the nuclear industry.

I have also spent many years involved in nuclear policy issues ­— and I’m against the proposals, too.

The problem is that West Cumbria, despite promise after promise of new investment, is fast becoming just the nation’s permanent nuclear rubbish dumping ground.

The Port of Workington should be a centre for new trade opportunities and a transport hub.

Nothing would kill its reputation quicker than making it yet another dumping ground in the increasing spread of nuclear waste sites.

Surely keeping the waste at Sellafield and Drigg should be enough.

Spreading it to Lillyhall and the Port of Workington damages Allerdale’s image as well.

Isn’t having Copeland known as “The World’s Nuclear Dustbin” bad enough?

Tim Knowles


Sent with ProtonMail Secure Email.
…‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐
On Friday, June 18th, 2021 at 15:05, Coyles, Joanne E <> wrote:

Sent on behalf of Stewart Young, Leader, Cumbria County Council

Dear Ms Birkby

Thank you for your recent correspondence raising concerns relating to the storage of containers by Cyclelife Ltd at the Port of Workington.

I understand your concerns relate to the risk of radiation associated with the materials stored within the containers, the decision of the Council to permit storage at the Port and the licencing and monitoring of the activity associated with Cyclelife Ltd’s operations.

On the first issue, I have been advised that the material is classed as Low Level Waste in the context of Nuclear/Radioactive waste and is considered as a very low risk material in the hierarchy of Nuclear generated waste material.  The storage of this Waste is regulated by the Environment Agency and a permit has been granted by them for this activity at both sites in West Cumbria.

The decision to award a short term lease to Cyclelife is a delegated decision to Council Officers and was considered as ‘business as usual’ having regard to the day to day running of the Council/Port Estate.  The lease provides clear provisions that mandate certain permissions and standards to be observed prior to, during and upon the cessation of Cyclelife Ltd’s use of the small area of land at the Port of Workington.

This includes the need for a valid permit to operate and monitoring arrangements to ensure high standards of health and safety are observed.  I confirmed this was a function of the Environment Agency and I recommend that if you have any concerns in relation to either, you liaise with Lynsey Pope at the Environment Agency via the following email address

With regard to the licensing of scrap metal materials, this is a function of Allerdale Borough Council and will be a key requirement of Cyclelife Ltd’s ability to operate.

On the matter of intensification of storage at Cyclelife Ltd’s site at Lillyhall, officers have reviewed the 2007 planning consent and I have been advised that no condition pertaining to the number of containers was imposed.  However there is a clear site specific area that the planning consent relates to and any activity outside this area would merit further investigation.

I hope this provides some clarity and thank you for raising this with me.

Kind regards


Joanne Coyles

PA to the Leader

Cumbria County Council

From: Radiation Free Lakeland
Sent: 09 June 2021 15:01
To: Young, Stewart F <>; Planning Section ABC <>
Subject: Fw: Radioactive Metal Storage at the Port of Workington – 80 Containers – No Vote??

Dear Councillor Young,

To follow up on our earlier request that  Councillors are ‘allowed’ to discuss and vote on the Cyclife/EDF scrap metal overflow plan at the Port of Workington plan.   Cyclife make no secret of the enormous tonnage of recycled scrap metal sourced from decommissioning nuclear installations that they sell onto the open market.  We would like to have sight of their Licence under The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 which we believe is issued by the County Council or possibly Allerdale Borough Council?.  A comment from a supporter of our blog page states ” A quick search appears to show they have no scrap metal licence. The company and those with control are liable to prosecution if this was found to be correct; but separately, a Constable or a Local Authority can serve a “Closure Notice” (shutting-down the site) in exercise of powers at Schedule 2 of the 2013 Act – where a constable or Local Authority “is satisfied” that a scrap metal business is being operated (as defined by Section 21 of The Scrap Metal Dealers Act) from or at the site/s. One’s suspicion would be increased if the Local Police and Local Authority (District Council) failed to serve a Closure Notice or Prosecute for the offences under the 2013 Act. It would certainly imply some level of complicity if not corruption. Additionally, if Cyclife (or the Directors) were found to operating a scrap metal business (I.e. selling metal after processing it) without a licence – in other words, illegally…”

We therefore ask for sight of Cyclife’s Licence to operate as a scrap metal dealership.

With many thanks

Marianne Birkby

on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland

Sent with ProtonMail Secure Email.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐
On Wednesday, June 9th, 2021 from Radiation Free Lakeland

Dear Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council, 

Radiation Free Lakeland have been contacted by concerned businesses and individuals in the Workington area who are vehemently opposed to the the housing of 40 full size or 80 half size shipping containers of radioactive scrap metal including plutonium at the Port of Workington.  The reason for a new host site for radioactive wastes at the Port of Workington is because the Cyclife plant at Lillyhall Industrial Estate is out of control (original 2007 plan was for up to 15 containers see attached) with a tsunami of radioactive scrap metal from nuclear “decommissioning” arriving for “recycling” onto the open market.  A drone photograph (attached) anonymously sent to Radiation Free Lakeland and taken in the last week indicates that 160 containers are stacked on the Cyclife, Lillyhall site.  (see attached drone photo)

A Question

We would like to know why the stacking of 80  “Cyclife overflow” shipping containers full of radioactive scrap metal is not being put through any form of scrutiny by Cumbria County Council?   CCC are the  owners and operators of the Port of Workington.  Allerdale Borough Councillors were unaware of the application to the Environment Agency by Cyclife/EDF, whose Radioactive Metal Recycling Facility is overflowing, and have had no opportunity to discuss or vote on the issue, likewise Cumbrian County Councillors.


The original Studsvik facility at Lillyhall business estate was sold to EDF Group in April 2016, and renamed Cyclife UK Ltd.

Original planning application of Studsvik (now Cyclife/EDF)  in 2007 was strongly opposed  by Allerdale Borough Council (Planning) and the two neighbouring parish councils of Dean and Disington along with local businesses including major employers (details below).

The application was  approved on the basis of documents indicating that the site would hold up to 15 half sized shipping containers onsite.  This has been routinely exceeded especially in the years following the acquisition of the site by EDF.  The enormous amount of shipping containers stacked four high being seen by locals on the site along with for example many contaminated rail flat beds used for the transportation of spent nuclear fuel, indicate that the Studsvik site is out of control.  A drone photograph (attached) anonymously sent to Radiation Free Lakeland and taken in the last week indicates that up to 160 containers are stacked on the site.  

The Dark Side of Decommissioning

The reason Cyclife now want to house the equivalent of 80 half size shipping containers at the Port of Workington is precisely because the Lillyhall site is overflowing.  Studsvik originally said that 60% of the radioactive metal would come from Sellafield – we assume that this has escalated to include metals from all decommissioning Magnox EDF sites both here in the UK and possibly overseas? 

The application by Cyclife to the Environment Agency was not made known to the public.  Local nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland only found out by accident and asked for the details of the application under Freedom of Information after the short consultation carried out on between 01/10/2020-28/10/2020 had ended.

 In approving the permit the Environment Agency imply that there was no interest in the issue from locals.  Locals had not been made aware through the press, by the applicant Cyclife/EDF, or by the EA.

Allerdale Borough Council and Parish Councillors who had opposed the original Studsvik metal recycling plan had no idea that Cyclife now want to expand their site onto the Port of Workington.

Most concerning is the fact that The Environment Agency say that a Radiological assessment regarding this permit “is not required because there are no discharges of gaseous or liquid waste, or on-site disposals of solid waste to land”   This takes no account of the worst case scenarios of containers stacked high and becoming stressed thereby accumulating rain water (which then becomes contaminated as has already happened on the Lillyhall site),  of fire hazard (there was recently a scrap metal fire in Sussex involving 250 tonnes of scrap metal ).   

There has been no assessment at all of radiological risk to nearby residents – the Environment Agency merely brush this aside with “The storage of radioactive waste will not pose a risk to local residents or local sensitive receptors. Monitoring will be required under the permit to provide continual demonstration of this”.    This is outrageous.  Of course there is a risk.   The Environment Agency will leave the “monitoring” to Cyclife/EDF who have already been in breach of safety conditions for example a routine audit by the Department for Transport (DfT) on 29-30 June 2010 found “non-conformances relating to design and maintenance controls” for nine radioactive waste containers,  a ban was issued and  Pete Roche, the editor of the website, said : “It is a worrying incident which suggests incompetence. It is also a concern that we only got to hear about it a couple of months after it happened.”  The ban was disclosed in a newsletter posted online in October by the government’s Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII). 

The newsletter added: “NII will seek to ensure that such deficiencies do not extend wider to areas of nuclear site license compliance.” The Studsvik site at Lillyhall is licensed by the NII.  In 2009 the newly formed Radiation Free Lakeland, urged the NII not to licence the site, arguing that it was “irresponsible” to recycle radioactive scrap meta onto the open market. concerns were ignored.

When the risk turns to damage to human health, to the environment and to the reputation of the Port of Workington – who will be liable?

The County Council, the Borough Councils and the Parish Councils should have the opportunity to seek genuinely independent advice on this issue and to have a full discussion and vote BEFORE Cyclife are handed a free pass to store 40 full sized/80 half size shipping containers of scrap metal radioactive wastes which includes plutonium at the Port of Workington.  

Yours sincerely,

CC Allerdale Borough Councillors, Allerdale Planning


Studsvik’s original application for its Radioactive Metal Recycling Plant in 2007 was widely and vehemently opposed.  

Below are extracts From the Original 2007 Planning Application for Studsvik on the Lillyhall site which was widely opposed.  In contrast – No one has had the opportunity to vote on or even discuss this new application for storage of large amounts of radioactive scrap metal at the Port of Workington.

Major employer, Iggesund packaging company vehemently opposed Studsvik  “In a letter to the council, Alan Brown, contracts and supply manager at Iggesund, said: “Our letter of objection was not available to members nor had the essential content of the letter been embodied in the briefing report on which the council based its decision.”   It is clear that local businesses wanted the Studsvik approval overturned and local councils both parish and borough opposed the decision allowing the radioactive metal recycling site to go ahead.

  • Extracts from Original Planning Application Documents for Studsvik (now Cyclife) Lillyhall Site (now overflowing in breach of original application)
    3.1  Allerdale Borough Council (Planning): The above application was considered by the Development Panel on 10 July 2007 when it resolved to object to the application as contrary to Policies EM11, relating to the location of scrapyards and other salvage operations, and EM12 of the Allerdale Local Plan, which realtes to sites covered by the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.
  • 3.4  Dean Parish Council (adjacent parish): Support initiatives to reduce the amount of waste disposed of at the LLWR at Drigg but strongly oppose the proposed development. The reasons for opposing the proposal are: This type of waste should be treated at source in accordance with best environmental principles; the proposal to treat waste from other licensed ‘nuclear sites’ is contrary to Nuclear Policy objectives of both Cumbria County Council and Copeland Borough Council; it is unnecessary to transport such waste to this site through populated areas and it would be imprudent to risk a ‘nuclear incident’; the information in the application is flawed in that sensitive receptors have not been properly identified, existing developments would be affected; the proposed fence is unacceptable; Lillyhall is not acceptable as a location as a matter of principle; existing businesses and sensitive receptors such as Lakes College would be adversely affected; and the decontamination process should be undertaken at Sellafield.
  • 3.5  Distington Parish Council (adjacent parish) The Environmental Statement as originally submitted gave inadequate information as to the number of sensitive uses in the vicinity, and that therefore it is considered to be an indication that the applicant may have reason to not disclose or discuss what are considered to be the true facts. Therefore an objection is lodged.
  • 3.13  A total of 79 letters of representation have been received from residents of Cumbria, prospective and actual visitors and local businesses in relation to this application. These letters, with two exceptions, object to the proposal. However some of the letters from businesses point out that generally they support the increase in skills for the nuclear industry. 
  • 3.14  The objections received from industrial/commercial operators are: That there would be adverse impact on existing employment uses in the Lillyhall area through the deterring of existing and future customers arising from the presence of the proposed facility; the risk to health and safety of employees and sensitive receptors; the potential damage to existing products and businesses if contamination occurred from an ‘incident’ including damage to businesses elsewhere in Cumbria and on the food processing industry in the area; the potential withdrawal of financial investment in a proposed cheese factory and loss of the 100 jobs it would create (to be located at Lillyhall); the adverse effect on the tourism industry through deterrence arising from knowledge of the presence of the facility; this site cannot be considered as an appropriate location for this facility. Objections also refer to the proximity of the proposed development to the Lakes College and that there are more sensitive uses within a defined radius of the application site than were identified in the ES.
  • 3.15  The letters from individuals raise similar objections to the proposal which are that: the site is an inappropriate location; that future visitors would be deterred from coming because of knowledge of the presence of the facility; there is an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of local employees, residents and visitors; the facility should be located at the LLWR near Drigg or Sellafield; therewould be an adverse effect on local businesses particularly on the tourism industry (most of the letters from further away within Cumbria and from outside the County emphasise that people would not visit the area if the facility was known); and there would be an unacceptable level of increase in the transport of contaminated materials on roads in Cumbria.

7 thoughts on “Nuclear Waste Dump at the Port of Workington “Permitted Development” say Cumbria County Council.

  1. Reply from the MP for Workington Mark Jenkinson…
    Please keep your conspiracy theorist correspondence between you, your own MP and anyone with time to waste listening to your nonsense. My team have much more important work to do, as I’m sure do others who are much more polite than me.
    The good people of Cleator Moor East and Frizington had the sense not to elect Tim Knowles – as I’m sure they would you, if you decided ever to put your head above the parapet and give them their say.
    Mark Jenkinson MP
    Member of Parliament for Workington
    01900 876189
    104 Senhouse Street · Maryport · CA15 6BS
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  2. Section 38(1) of The Workington Harbour and Dock Transfer Act 1957 provides that the company (“The Workington Harbour and Dock Company Limited”) [Ownership of which was transferred to The County Council by section 1(1) of the 1957 Act] shall not be compelled to receive within the harbour limits articles that may endanger safety.

    By Section 38(2) of the same Act, the company must publish a schedule of articles that shall be refused. It is an offence to bring, cause or permit such articles into the limits of the Harbour.
    Section 38 of The Workington Harbour and Dock Transfer Act 1957 was not repealed by The Workington Harbour Act 1974.

    I would suggest with respect that someone requests from the company a copy of The Schedule of Articles to be Refused – this need not be under the Freedom of Information Act or The Environmental Information Regulations. It is a Statutory requirement that the Schedule be “published” in a manner as may be Directed by the Minister (Government).

    It is entirely possible that Radioactive Waste is listed on the Schedule of Articles to be Refused. If it is, not only can the storage by Cyclife not be permitted development, but its presence will also be illegal. Those responsible for bringing it, permitting it or causing it to on site should be prosecuted.

    1. Joris

      Interesting read. Just making you aware that according to the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 – Schedule 2: Toys must not contain radioactive elements or substances in forms or proportions likely to be detrimental to a child’s health. So what you’re saying here is either wrong or Cyclife is doing a VERY good job at removing radioactivity from the metal they are recycling.

  3. Pingback: Countering Capenhurst – July 2021 – Close Capenhurst

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