News : Live Internet discussion on possible nuclear waste disposal in West Cumbria


A live discussion on issues relating to West Cumbria potentially taking part in the Government’s search for an underground repository for higher-activity radioactive waste is to be streamed over the Internet.


The online programme or webcast, which is being organised by the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership, will enable people logged in on their computers at home to ask questions to a panel of experts and Partnership members. It takes place on 6th March between 6pm and 8pm.


The Partnership representatives on the panel will be Councillor Elaine Woodburn, the Leader of Copeland Borough Council, and the Rev Lindsay Gray, from Churches Together in Cumbria.


The other members of the panel will be Alun Ellis, who is the Engineering Director for the geological disposal facility within the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; Pete Wilkinson, an environmental policy adviser and a co-founder of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace UK; and a geologist, Jeremy Dearlove.


The event will be chaired by Richard Harris from 3kq, the Partnership’s independent facilitators.


The webcast is an opportunity for people who were unable to attend the Partnership’s series of 12 community events to put forward their questions and views.


The Rev Lindsay Gray said: “The community events we held at different locations around the county were a good opportunity for people to ask the Partnership and experts any burning questions they had relating to the area potentially taking part in the Government’s search.


“This webcast is designed to enable those who were not able to make it to those events to ask questions and watch a discussion on some of the issues relating to what is a very important process for West Cumbria.  We hope that it will encourage more people to think about these issues and send us their responses to our consultation document.”


People can watch the debate, and ask questions, by logging in to the Partnership’s website at


Questions can also be submitted in advance on the Partnership’s Facebook page or by Tweeting @WestCumbriaMRWS.


The panel will try to answer as many questions as possible during the online programme and other responses will be provided by email after the event.


The webcast forms part of a wider consultation which has been running since November, and will also be available to watch again after the event.


The Partnership is made up of representatives of all the local authorities in the county as well as organisations such as the National Farmers’ Union, Cumbria Tourism, the Lake District National Park Authority and the Cumbria Association of Local Councils.  It has spent more than two years gathering information, commissioning research and asking questions in order to find out more about what taking part in the search for site would mean for the area.


The Partnership has set out its initial opinions on issues such as geology and safety in a consultation document and is now giving the public the chance to have their say.  These views will then be taken into consideration when the Partnership finalises its report to send to the three local authorities that will make a formal decision about whether to take part in the search for a site – Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council.   The consultation runs until March 23.


If the area does decide to participate in this process, the councils could withdraw at any point in the future until work begins to build a repository. It would take around 15 years to find a suitable site following extensive testing of geology and other factors.


For more information about the Partnership and a copy of the consultation document visit the Partnership’s website –




For media enquiries please contact the Partnership’s communications advisor Paul Gardner or Ian Boydon at Osprey Communications on 01524-782086 or 077667906561


1. The Chair of Partnership rotates between the three principle authorities on the Partnership – Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council.


2. In addition to Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council there are a range of other organisations making up the Partnership, including Barrow Borough Council, local trade unions, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Churches Together Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council, Carlisle City Council, the Lake District National Park Authority, the Cumbria Association of Local Councils, NuLeAF (the Nuclear Legacy Advisory Forum), the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and Cumbria Tourism.


3. A number of other organisations attend as ‘observing members’ including Government departments, the Isle of Man Government, CoRWM (Committee on Radioactive Waste Management), the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the safety and environment regulators.


4. The Government is looking for a community in the UK to volunteer to have a repository. Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council decided to take part in early discussions about this process on behalf of West Cumbria because a large amount of the country’s radioactive waste is already stored in the area at Sellafield.


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