Here is the letter including reference to new UK legislation, published in Cumbrian newspapers by NTW member Tim Knowles the 19 February 2023:
As predicted the investment bonanzas forecast by our politicians over the last decade have failed to materialise. Moorside, the National Grid upgrade, new high quality roads, rail improvements etc etc have proved to be hot air. Yes there are a few “town deals”, but these don’t start to replace the money cut from Cumbrian council budgets during the period.
We are left with the stark reality that the only project capable of bringing major funding to improve our infrastructure is the “Deep Geological Facility”, a development which would make West Cumbria the permanent home of probably the world’s largest, high level nuclear waste disposal site.
An example of how political fortunes change has led our country’s governing Conservative party to lose all control over local political decisions at a time when the power to agree on whether the Allerdale or Copeland areas should continue with discussions to host the GDF now rests with the new Labour led Cumberland Council.
The temptation to carry on with the current confused dialogue in two rural parish clusters within Copeland plus a larger group covering most of Allerdale will be obvious, but the incentives when compared with the huge benefits delivered by the French government to its repository candidate area are pitifully small. Given that agreement to continue engagement with the GDF is virtually the only strong card available to force bankable guarantees of high investment in Cumbria, perhaps now is the time to pause and reflect, allowing us the opportunity to understand fully what the “Working with Communities” legislation means when it refers to “Significant additional investment”?
Perhaps it is also time to consider a real, independent resource to assess the impacts, risks and benefits to our community of all the nuclear related projects being planned for our area which stretch long into the future? In other countries e.g. Sweden and the USA, government policy supports such independent bodies who focus on communities with major nuclear facilities. In Cumbria our citizens and local authorities can afford no such access to real independent advice.
All we have is the West Cumbria Sites Stakeholder Group, funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and staffed by Sellafield Ltd. As an example of how effective this body is, at its last meeting members discovered that government is bringing in game changing legislation on radioactive materials which the NDA knew all about and has planned for. The government “consultation period” for this legislation begins and ends before the WCSSG’s next meeting, so much for open government, transparency and community engagement?