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Monday, 22 December 2014

Rallying protest call at meeting over west Cumbria repository plans

A weekend of action is being planned in the fight against plans for a nuclear waste dump in west Cumbria.

Repository meeting photo
Hundreds packed the meeting in Keswick

The news came at a public meeting called by residents in Keswick last night, which attracted more than 500 people. Lawyer John Wilson, of Portinscale, told the meeting that people had to pull together to fight proposals which could lead to radioactive waste being buried under the Lake District or the Solway Plain.

Cumbria County Council, Allerdale Council and Copeland Council are set to vote on whether the Government should search for a West Cumbrian site to build an underground repository for high-level radioactive waste.

Mr Wilson told the meeting: “If we lose at the end of the month, and it’s quite possible, we really need to get organised.”

He urged everyone to sign petitions and write to the county council cabinet members and executive members of the borough councils to voice their opinions.

He called on bodies such as the National Trust, Cumbria Tourism, the Green Party and Friends of the Earth to make their views known.

The campaign group Solway Plain Against Nuclear Dump (Spand) is holding a music night ‘Spand Aid’, aimed at raising money and galvanising public support.

Mr Wilson said he wanted to see all the other groups which were keen to see the West Cumbria and the Lake District protected coordinate their efforts over the weekend. Geologist Professor David Smythe last year drew on details in Nuclear Decommissioning Authority documents and concluded that two main rock types in West Cumbria could be considered for hosting a repository – one under the Solway Plain and the Ennerdale and Eskdale granite in Copeland.

Fellow geologist Dr Jeremy Dearlove, who was previously employed by the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership to analyse the results of a British Geological Survey report, told the meeting he thought both areas had a low chance of being suitable.

A quarter of West Cumbria was ruled out of the site search by a preliminary report of the British Geological Survey in 2010.

Seventy five per cent of the area left is within the national park. Keswick marketing expert Harry Marsland told the meeting that the Lake District’s £2.2billion tourist industry and the 57,000 direct jobs it supports could be jeopardised if a dump was built, along with thousands more jobs in the tourism supply chain.

One woman in the audience carried out a straw poll. Nearly everyone in the room put up a hand to say they wanted West Cumbria to withdraw from the process.

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