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The nuclear war for Lincolnshire – a toxic nuclear waste plan for a bucolic village

There are certain English villages, wrote Bill Bryson, “whose very names
summon forth an image of lazy summer afternoons”. One example was
Theddlethorpe All Saints. Lying on the quiet Lincolnshire coast north of
Skegness, Theddlethorpe’s approximately 500 residents are served by a
thatched pub and two handsome medieval churches, which stand out against
huge skies.

Yet storm-clouds are building on the horizon; soon, this
obscure corner of England could be the backdrop to a dystopian tale.
Theddlethorpe has always had an industrious underbelly. Between 1972 and
2018, it was known for the Theddlethorpe Gas Terminal, where natural gas
gathered from beneath the North Sea was collected, then fed into the
National Grid. At its peak, Theddlethorpe handled around 5% of the UK’s gas
supply, but with the shift away from fossil fuels, the plant became

In 2021, just as locals were feeling grateful for the site’s
long-promised return to agricultural use, came news that the terminal might
have an unwelcome afterlife — as the landward end of an undersea nuclear
waste dump. It is one of four sites being considered by the government for
a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF), the others all being on the far side
of the country, near Sellafield, a huge nuclear site in Cumbria.

The idea s that vast storage caverns would be blasted into bedrock up to 1,000
metres under the sea, several miles offshore. “Higher activity”
radioactive waste would then be transported to Theddlethorpe from 23
surface storage locations across the UK, and trundled out along a tunnel,
to be walled up and forgotten. The immediate vicinity of Sellafield is
already unfit for many other purposes; why contaminate hitherto unaffected

Especially because it would clearly be much cheaper to store waste
close to its sources. NWS admits: “The transport provisions to the
Theddlethorpe GDF Search Area are currently limited” and “significant
works” would be required. The Government proposal suggests these works
would cost between £20 and £53 billion — although as the tale of HS2
shows, the cost of extending transport networks is liable to gross
underestimation. This throws up a question considered taboo in the
discourse around large infrastructure projects: would expansion of either
railways or roads really “benefit” an area whose residents generally
value its rural character?

Unherd 6th March 2023


March 7, 2023 - Posted by | UK, wastes

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