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Sneaking a nuclear waste dump in, under another name

 Opponents believe that attempts to ‘spin’ a potential Lakeland nuclear waste dump as ‘West Cumbrian’ is an irresponsible strategy of deception that glibly condemns both Cumbria and the Lake District as a whole to inevitable environmental catastrophe…

Nuclear waste – tarnishing the Lake District ‘brand’? Virtual Lancaster, 26 APRIL 2012  The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) has issued a consultation response  that indicates that its sole concern about having a dump for high-level nuclear waste built under the Lake District is bad publicity to the Lakeland ‘brand’.

The proposed Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) (nuclear waste dump) within the National Park would be the first of its kind, would become known throughout the world, and must remain intact and sealed from any groundwater seepage for several hundred thousand years with potentially deadly consequences to the region if it should weaken at any point in that era.
Their response to the government’s ‘Managing Radioactive Waste Safely ‘ (MRWS) public consultation can be downloaded as a PDF document here .

Practically every local parish council near the proposed site has voted vehemently against it (read more here) . Keswick Council in particular is worried that a dump for high-level radioactive waste would put paid to the Lake District’s hopes of becoming a World Heritage Site, a status that would attract increasing jobs and funding as natural green spaces are shrinking elsewhere. Recent earth tremors in nearby Ambleside have focussed minds on the problem.

However the LDNPA’s concerns are, worryingly, not with possible radioactive pollution to the Lakeland water table or geological instability over millenia but simply about ‘spin’ – with polluting the ‘brand’ of the Lake District. Despite many letters from objectors locally and nationally, in their recent response  to the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership (MWRS) consultation on the proposed dump they raised only one concern:…..  It remains a concern that significant media interest highlights the potential location of the geological disposal facility in the ‘Lake District’ rather than ‘West Cumbria’. As a result of the association of a geological disposal facility and the Lake District we remain very concerned that there may be a direct impact on businesses operating within and trading off the brand of the Lake District.

In other words, they seek assurance that any piece of nuclear news in the public media should henceforth refer only to ‘West Cumbria’ and never to ‘The Lake District’. The suggestion that ‘West Cumbria’ is a different entity to the ‘Lake District’ is misleading, however and has enraged Cumbrians who are passionately attached to their National Park – the jewel in the their own ‘brand’.  The British Geological Survey report  to the government on potential GDF sites ruled out much of Cumbria  – except the area that that lay within the National Park boundaries. The proposed site, near the popular visitor destination of  Gosforth ,  with its many charming hotels, lies within the National Park and is a stone’s throw from Ennerdale, Wastwater and Buttermere.

The fact that Labour peer and ex-Cabinet member Lord Clark of Windermere is chair of the LDNPA partnership and also a non-executive director of Sellafield Ltd also appears to illustrate the close association between the Lake District and the nuclear industry. It has not gone unnoticed by local anti-nuclear campaigners, many of whom who see a direct conflict of interest between the two roles.

In 2001 Lord Clark was sacked from his position in the Labour Cabinet over his attempts to water down the then new Freedom of Information legislation promised by Labour when in opposition. Opponents believe that attempts to ‘spin’ a potential Lakeland nuclear waste dump as ‘West Cumbrian’ is an irresponsible strategy of deception that glibly condemns both Cumbria and the Lake District as a whole to inevitable environmental catastrophe…..

From the nuclear industry’s point of view, which its executives are committed to support, a disposal ‘solution’ for long-term deadly toxic waste is the key to any future nuclear development. The current priority is simply to drive through the fresh public consultation stage with their plan intact. Their problem seems to be how to prevent the public from actually noticing that Lakeland, a precious national asset, is at stake. The LDNPA is the Lake District planning authority. Its support is vital and its chair Baron Clark is in a key position to oversee delivery of that support.  Their response is clear:  ‘Stop telling anyone’.

The Labour Government’s previous nuclear consultation on building a new generation of reactors in the UK was declared a ‘sham excercise’ in a High Court ruling  in 2007. For the Lake District National Park planning authority to be clearly advocating media deception of the public in the debate over the siting of the GDF under the National Park certainly suggests that yet another ‘sham exercise’ is under way.


April 27, 2012 - Posted by | spinbuster, UK

1 Comment »

  1. Brilliant Info! Just a little blip on the bit about Lord Clark – he drafted the FOI bill in opposition and was replaced when Labour got into government and wanted to water down the bill . The government quango ‘Managing Radioactive Wastes Safely’ say they are not obliged to answer Freedom of Info questions !

    Comment by mariannewildart | April 27, 2012 | Reply

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