Two Community Partnerships will be formed in Copeland after the council agreed to move forward to the next stage in the process to search for a possible site to host a Geological Disposal Facility.
Copeland Borough Council’s Executive voted today to continue to represent the communities identified as Search Areas going forward in the process.
The wards of Gosforth & Seascale and Beckermet and Millom and Black Combe & Scafell have been identified as areas to be examined in more detail to determine if they are suitable to have a GDF.
The Lake District National Park is excluded from the search area. Areas off the coast will also be considered.
At the meeting of the Executive today it was decided that it was important for the council to remain part of the conversation.
Concerns had been raised about the process at the Strategic Nuclear and Energy Board but it was agreed, following a vote, the answers to the issues may be resolved by joining the Community Partnerships where a more detailed look at the GDF and the implications of hosting one would be explored.
The Strategic Nuclear and Energy Board recommended to the Executive that they move the process to partnership stage.
A Geological Disposal Facility is an underground store designed to safely and securely dispose of radioactive waste.
For the past 11 months the council has been a member of the Copeland GDF Working Group which has been looking at identifying Search Areas to be considered more carefully.
Following the identification by the working group of these two areas the council had to consider whether they wanted to be part of the Community Partnership. This was agreed.
Today’s decision does not mean the council is agreeing for a GDF to be built in the borough at this stage.
Councillor David Moore, Portfolio Holder for Nuclear, was the council’s representative on the Working Group. Following the decision he said: “This is an important step forward and it’s right that the council continues to be involved.
“Most of the waste that would be stored in a GDF is here in Copeland at Sellafield.
“Today’s decision does not mean that a GDF will be built in either of those Search Areas – just that those areas will be more thoroughly explored to see if they are safe and suitable, and whether the communities are willing to become hosts.
“A GDF will be not be built anywhere without the agreement of the people living nearby.
“A wider partnership will now be put together for each Search Area and gives the community more chance to get involved.”
By joining a Community Partnership, £1m a year will be available to both of the Search Areas to fund local projects. This amount would rise to £2.5m if borehole investigations are carried out.
Councillor Steven Morgan, Chair of the Strategic Nuclear and Energy Board, added: “We are not agreeing to a GDF now. We are agreeing to join the Community Partnership. Further down the line the communities may be asked if they want to host a GDF and they need to be in an informed position to do that.
“Stopping the service now would have been a disservice to the public. By staying in we are supporting them in the intelligence gathering process.”
The Community Partnership will be supported in its work by Radioactive Waste Management Ltd, which has been tasked by the government to find a willing community and suitable site to build the GDF.
Residents living in the wards of the two identified search areas residents will receive information giving further details, and how people can get involved.