In a geographical study commissioned by The Department of Energy and Climate Change, areas were ruled out that would not be suitable to host a disposal facility.

The survey ruled out certain areas but the Lake District was not one of these. The survey was not designed to conclude where such facilities would eventually be located.

The study covered an area for which local authorities had expressed an interest in entering ‘no commitment’ discussions with Government about the siting process.

This focused on West Cumbria, where councils have agreed to store nuclear waste and on areas of the Irish Sea.

Areas that were not ruled out by the study included Keswick, Cockermouth and Wast Water.

Greenpeace senior energy campaigner, Ben Ayliffe, said:

“This report means that almost anywhere in the Lake District could become a dump for the UK’s radioactive waste.

“It’s hard to imagine a more tragic legacy to Britain’s nuclear folly than vats of lethal nuclear waste being stored around Keswick or Scafell Pike. It’s certainly not the sweeping vistas that would have inspired Wordsworth or Coleridge.

“And dumping this stuff underground is no solution anyway – wherever it is. So we certainly shouldn’t be creating any more nuclear waste. There are much better ways of producing electricity.”

The Minister for Energy, Charles Hendry, warned however of jumping to premature conclusions about the possible sites. He said: “We must progress implementation of geological disposal, the long-term sustainable solution for dealing with radioactive waste.

“Today’s report, commissioned from the British Geological Survey, is a step forward. The geological disposal facility site selection process is based on voluntarism and partnership and these results do not present any reason why West Cumbria cannot continue to consider whether or not to participate in that process.”

The government has made clear its conviction that nuclear energy will play a central role in Britain’s future energy provision and this intensifies the need for a solution to the storage of nuclear waste.

Alison Brown

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