News : Major public consultation on possible nuclear waste disposal in West Cumbria ends


One of the biggest public consultations to take place in Cumbria has come to a close after four months.


The consultation on possible underground disposal of nuclear waste was organised by the West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership and ran between November last year and March 23.


Around 1,300 people living in West Cumbria, other parts of the county, and further afield, contributed their views to the consultation.


The consultation involved a much larger amount of communications and public-engagement work than is usual for consultations because the Partnership wanted to ensure it did as much as possible to raise awareness of the issues and give people the chance to have their say.

The consultation included:

·         paid for articles on two separate occasions in local newspapers;

·         a six-page article in Your Cumbria, which is delivered to all homes in the county;

·         an Overview of the full consultation document and a newsletter which was sent to homes in West Cumbria as well as places like libraries, council offices and leisure centres;

·         a website with a wide range of information; regular updates on Twitter and Facebook;

·         advertising on billboards and buses in West Cumbria;

·         12 consultation events across the county;

·         a live online discussion;

·         an education pack for schools;

·         about 50 discussion groups in schools and other groups; and

·         a competition to further encourage young people to find out more.


The West Cumbria MRWS 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 almost three years gathering information, commissioning research and asking questions in order to find out more about what taking part in the search for a site would mean for the area.


In the consultation the Partnership set out its initial opinions on a range of issues related to whether the area should take part in the Government’s search and asked people to express their views on them.  The Partnership has not come to a view about whether the area should take part in the search for a site.  Instead it wanted to find out what the public thinks before producing a final report.


Councillor Tim Knowles, current Chairman of the West Cumbria MRWS Partnership, said: “This has been one of the biggest ever consultations that has taken place in Cumbria or anywhere else in the UK.  Although the Government say there would still be a right to withdraw if the councils take part in the search for a site, the decision that needs to be made now is an important one.  It is vital that whatever we decide to do is supported by local people.


“A repository would affect this area for many generations into the future and we wanted to make sure that we gave people as much opportunity as possible to take part in the consultation.  We would like to thank everyone who has taken part and responded to the consultation.  These views will be carefully considered by the Partnership over the next few months and will help us produce our final report.”


In addition to the consultation, a representative opinion poll is being conducted by Ipsos MORI. More than 3,000 people will be surveyed on the telephone in March and April.


The Partnership’s report is likely to be sent to Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council–- this summer.  The three local authorities will each make a formal decision about whether to take part in the search for a site later in the year.  For an area to formally enter the siting process, both the Borough Council and the County Council would need to be in agreement. 


For more information about the Partnership visit




* For more information on how the Partnership plans to assess public and stakeholder views see page 107 of the consultation document.


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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