31st July 2018

Today the government published its Draft National Policy statement for Geological Disposal Infrastructure which will be taken to Parliament later this year. 

Despite serious concerns raised by Friends of the Lake District, Lake District National Park Authority, Campaign for National Parks and many others the government has decided to not exclude protected landscapes from being considered for hosting a radioactive waste site.  This has major implications for the Lake District and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as west Cumbria is seen as a potential host community, given previous attempts to site one here and the close proximity of the nuclear power station, Sellafield, and proposed nuclear power station, Moorside.

We make two key points in our responses to the consultation earlier this year, (see below) and these concerns both still stand as the government has not taken them into account.

April 2018

We have responded to a government draft National Policy Statement on how to select a site for a deep Geological Disposal Facility for high level nuclear waste in the UK. We have also responded to a separate consultation 'Working With Communities' to encourage communities to volunteer to host the facility. This has major implications for the Lake District and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as west Cumbria is seen as a potential host community, given previous attempts to site one here and the close proximity of the nuclear power station, Sellafield, and proposed nuclear power station, Moorside. 

We make two key points in our responses: 

  • We believe that Protected Landscapes, such as national parks, AONBs and World Heritage Sites, should be excluded from being considered as a potential site for storing this type of nuclear waste. We believe that the national importance of landscapes that receive the highest level of legal and policy protection possible should be respected and that they should be excluded from the process. We  also feel that it is insufficient to simply leave the decision to proceed with local communities. The Lake District is a national park because it is recognised to be a ‘national asset’. If a community in or near the Lake District was to put itself forward as a host for a  Geological Disposal Facility, the Government should undertake a test of public support on national basis so that everyone with an interest in the Lake District has the opportunity to input into the process.
  • Previous studies have shown that the Lake District’s geology makes it wholly unsuitable for a Geological Disposal Facility. We are concerned that the emphasis from government is on finding willing host communities rather than first looking for sites with suitable geology for this type of activity. 

    This facility must be sited 1km underground within 20 square kilometres of impermeable rock type such as clay or salt. This is the sort of geology needed to contain radioactive gases and particles for up to 100,000 years. The geology of the western Lake District is highly fractured and faulted and unfortunately, there is no guarantee that human engineered containment would last 100,000 years. Over such an extended timescale it is likely that water would permeate through the rock and into the Irish sea and other ground water bringing radioactive particles with it. It is unethical to leave future generations with a legacy of poorly contained radioactive waste. We therefore believe that no community should be allowed to volunteer as a host unless it can be first be confirmed that the geology of the area is suitable.

Download / view our full responses here:

Friends of the Lake District response to BEIS Implementing Geological Disposal NPS (pdf)

Friends of the Lake District response to BEIS Working With Communities consultation final (pdf)