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Nuclear Plans In Disarray After Cumbria Votes ‘No’ To Radioactive Dump

Rowena Mason, The Daily Telegraph

The future of new nuclear power stations in Britain has been dealt a serious blow, after a council threw out plans for a giant radioactive waste dump near the Lake District.

A golfer walks across a green near the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria. Scottish and Southern, GDF Suez and Iberdrola form NuGeneration consortium to build UK nuclear power plant

Scottish and Southern, GDF Suez and Iberdrola are planning to construct their plant adjacent to the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria by 2023 Photo: Reuters

Cumbria County Council voted against hosting an underground nuclear landfill amid fears about safety and the threat to tourism.

Eddie Martin, Conservative leader of the council, told a public meeting he did not feel ministers had offered enough reassurances to Cumbria.

The Coalition wants to see several nuclear power stations built over the next decade, but the plans cannot go ahead unless there are “effective arrangements” for storing the future waste.

Cumbria was the only county council that came forward offering to explore the possibility of a “geological disposal facility” on its land but it has now ruled itself out of contention.

Edward Davey, the Energy Secretary, said the hunt would now go on for another part of Britain to host the site and insisted the decision would not “undermine” the Government’s nuclear energy plans.

He said the Government will honour a promise not to impose a waste disposal facility on an unwilling community.

“We will now embark on a renewed drive to ensure that the case for hosting a GDF is drawn to the attention of other communities,” he said.

Mr Davey said it is now “absolutely vital that we get to grips with our national nuclear legacy”.

“The issue has been kicked into the long-grass for far too long,” he said. “We remain firmly committed to geological disposal as the right policy for the long-term, safe and secure management of radioactive waste. We also remain committed to the principles of voluntarism and a community-led approach.

EDF Energy said its plans to be the first company to build a new nuclear station in a generation by the end of this decade are not affected.

A spokesman said the company can “continue to store radioactive waste and spent fuel safely and securely above ground for as long as necessary”.

“Today’s decision does not have an impact on EDF Energy’s new nuclear project in Somerset. Waste from new nuclear sites would not be due for underground disposal for many years to come,” he said.

However, any new nuclear power stations built without long-term plans for how the waste will be buried would almost certainly be subject to legal challenges.

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