THE majority of south Cumbria could be affected if there was a major nuclear incident at Sellafield, a new report has revealed.

New regulations have been introduced to increase the preparedness for radiation emergencies following the Fukishima disaster in Japan.

REPPIR 2019 establishes a framework of measures to ensure that arrangements are in place to effectively respond to any emergencies, both on the site of the situation and off-site where members of the public might be affected.

Part of the new strategy means Outline Planning Zone's must be put in place.

These are areas outside of the immediate vacinity which could be affected by a disaster.

A report from Steve Healey, the chief fire officer for Cumbria, revealed the affected area covers a 50-kilometre circular zone from an epicentre at Sellafield.

The area includes as far south as Walney, east as Bowness and north almost to the Scottish border.

Cumbria County Council has accepted the report at a meeting of the cabinet, which was chaired by Cllr Stewart Young.

"It demonstrates the role of the county council in the nuclear industry," he said.

"This new concept of an Outlying Planning Zone is new. The zone is determined by kilometres from the centre of the Sellafield site. It takes you way beyond the boundaries of Copeland, showing that other areas of Cumbria would also be affected by a serious incident.

"It includes BAE and the docks at Barrow. So, the implications of an accident are so significant for the whole county. It is a responsibility that sits then with Cumbria County Council as well as Barrow, Copeland and Allerdale. This is an important piece of work."

The new regulations allow for a transitional period of 12 months and all changes required to have been made by this May.

The authority was on track to meet the deadlines until resources were diverted to respond to Covid-19.

A plan has been agreed with the Office for Nuclear Regulation allowing the council to prepare the plans before November 21 this year.

The report said Sellafield's OPZ was the largest in the United Kingdom and whilst only outline planning is required there is a substantial amount of work being undertaken to identify vulnerable premises and infrastructure in the zone.

MP Trudy Harrison, who represents Copeland, said: "Whilst the report will support policies and procedures already in place, the risks, of course, are not new, and it is why we pride ourselves with safely managing the Sellafield site in accordance with the working practices set out by the Office for Nuclear Regulations and others.

"It is why we employ the most advanced craftspersons and professionals and adhere to the most stringent rules, following what is sometimes an onerous but necessary way of working with accountability at its core, which is what all staff working in or around the site will continue to do, in partnership with our community."