The latest move marks another important step forward in the nationwide search to find a willing community and suitable site for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) where higher-activity radioactive waste will be safely and securely disposed of.
The deep geology off the coastline is being considered for the underground elements of a GDF. This means a land-based surface facility could provide access to underground tunnels and vaults many kilometres away, constructed in rocks up to 1,000 metres deep.
Allerdale GDF Community Partnership will focus its engagement activities in a 320 sq km search area covering 13 electoral wards: Aspatria; Broughton St Bridgets; Dalton; Ellen & Gilcrux; Flimby; Harrington & Salterbeck; Maryport North; Maryport South; Moorclose & Moss Bay; Seaton & Northside; St John’s; St Michael’s and Stainburn & Clifton.
The Lake District National Park and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are excluded from consideration at the request of the community and their representatives.
Initial members of the Community Partnership include representatives from Allerdale Borough Council, Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC), Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, and Inspira. The interim Chair will be Mary Bradley from CALC, a member of the Allerdale GDF Working Group, who will remain in the role until more members are recruited and a new Chair appointed. The group will grow and develop to reflect the different voices in the search area.
Formation of the Community Partnership unlocks £1 million per year of community investment funding for initiatives supporting economic development opportunities, improving community well-being, or enhancing the local environment. This figure could rise to £2.5 million later in the process.
RWM Chief Executive Karen Wheeler said:
We’re delighted to see the formation of Allerdale GDF Community Partnership. This provides a platform to increase community engagement and trigger investment funding for projects that will provide immediate benefits for the communities involved.
This is the third Community Partnership to form and represents real progress as we engage with communities about a GDF and what it could mean for them. We look forward to continuing discussions and beginning investigations in these areas for a site that could be suitable for a GDF.
RWM continues to hold informal discussions in other parts of the country that may lead to the formation of additional Working Groups and Community Partnerships.
Construction of a GDF requires both a suitable site and willing community. If a suitable site is eventually found in Allerdale, a Test of Public Support would be held with those living in the wards affected. The project could only go ahead with explicit public support.
Learn more about geological disposal here.