Sellafield can continue to store 11,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste in one of its Seascale buildings, Cumbria County Council has agreed.

Permission was granted in 1992 for Sellafield to store encapsulated intermediate-level waste in a five-storey building on the site but that permission was due to expire at the end of next year due to a planning condition.

At a virtual meeting of the council’s development control and regulation committee yesterday, councillors voted unanimously in favour of removing the condition and allowing the waste to continue to be stored there after an application by Sellafield Ltd.

Members were told that there was no permanent alternative available in the absence of the proposed new UK Geological Disposal Facility, the location of which has not yet been decided.

A report from council officer Jayne Petersen read at the meeting yesterday morning said: “The material stored in the building would be controlled by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, who have far greater environmental controls than any planning condition could.

“I consider the continued interim storage is acceptable until alternative facilities are made available.

“It is clear that nuclear materials stored on Sellafield will be transferred to alternative facilities when made available in the future.

“Until such time, this material needs to be stored in appropriate facilities.”

Seascale parish council had argued that a full planning application should have been submitted to allow consideration of “health and quality of life risks”, the report said, while Ponsonby parish council had suggested an extension of up to 10 years instead of removing any time limit.

An objection received from Gosforth parish council, which was read at the meeting, said the NDA and Sellafield should be responsible for building a "safe, long-term" storage facility.

County councillor Tony Markley, who put forward the motion to approve the officer’s recommendation which members voted for, said: “I went through the papers myself and I actually think that this is the only solution we have.

“The waste is sitting there in Sellafield being stored in that building and looked after by an extremely capable crew so I think for the safety of the community we need to continue with this.”

A spokesman for Sellafield Ltd said: "We're grateful to the committee for approving our request.

"This will enable the continued safe and secure interim storage of intermediate-level waste in the building until its eventual consignment to a UK GDF."