A Cumbria County Council committee has asked to be included in a new working group exploring the suitability of Copeland for the site of an underground radioactive waste facility.
The council’s local committee for Copeland agreed on Tuesday to submit a request to Radioactive Waste Management to join its newly-formed working group, exploring the viability of siting a Geological Disposal Facility in Copeland.
The facility would provide deep underground long-term storage for nuclear waste, and the Government is now looking for viable potential sites for the construction of such a facility.
Copeland Council is already a member of the working group.
Conservative county councillor for Cleator Moor East and Frizington, Arthur Lamb, proposed to the committee on Tuesday that it express an interest in joining the working group, “to make sure that all tiers of local government are represented.”
The suggestion was unanimously agreed.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, cabinet member for economic development and property, Labour’s David Southward, provided an update on recent developments in the nuclear landscape, which could prove to have a profound effect on Copeland’s future.
He explained that the much-anticipated energy White Paper will soon be published by the Government, which is expected to outline its position on the degree of support it will give to new nuclear power station projects in future.
This could have significant consequences for the future of the Moorside project, which may see a new nuclear power station built close to the Sellafield site.
Another avenue Mr Southward said may be explored in the White Paper is the role advanced modular reactors could be set to play in the Government’s future energy strategy.
He said it was now “clear” that Rolls Royce is the preferred provider for such technology.
“They’ve said clearly they would need to build 16 as a minimum to make the project viable,” he said.
“Those who are closer to Government than I am suggest there may be four allocated to the Moorside site.
“If that’s the case, it can only be good news.”
Mr Southward added that an alternative to advanced modular reactors at Moorside contributing to the national grid would be that “one or more of these AMRs would be build in conjunction with something like a hydrogen plant, which would make it a ‘one-stop shop’ for hydrogen.
“That sort of thing is being looked at.”
He added progress on this is likely to be several years in the making.
“I would remind people that as far as I know, the generic design assessment for the AMRs has still to be completed. That is frequently a two or three year process.
“After that, under the nationally significant infrastructure project regime, there would be a pause again, for perhaps three years, for development consent orders.”
He added that the “most crucial” result he hoped for from the White Paper was an indication on Government’s attitude is towards financing these projects.
Mr Southward said funding for AMRs would be easier to source than for conventional power stations.
“Clearly because of their size, there are only about an eighth or a ninth of a conventional power station, the funding for an AMR would be easier to raise on the market,” he said.
“It would still be, I would guess, something in the order of £2bn to £3bn.
“It’s not pocket money.”
Source: News & Star