News from the Allerdale Geological Disposal Facility Working Group
A Geological Disposal Facility, or GDF, is an underground facility designed to safely and securely dispose of radioactive waste – specifically ‘higher-activity’ waste (the most radioactive kind).
Scientists and other authorities around the world agree that a GDF is the safest way to deal with this waste long-term, so the Government is looking for a suitable site in England to build one.
After months of discussion with local people, the Working Group set up to start a conversation with the community about whether this would be right for the area - the Allerdale GDF Working Group - has identified a specific Search Area within which Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) - the Government organisation responsible for planning and delivering the project - could look for potentially suitable sites.
The Search Area is based on district electoral ward boundaries but doesn’t include any land within the Lake District National Park, which is excluded from consideration.
It’s important to say that this is only the beginning of a long conversation that will take place over many years about what’s right for the community. No decision has yet been made on whether a GDF will be built in Allerdale and other parts of the Country, including Copeland, are being considered.
How was the Search Area decided?
To identify the Search Area, the Working Group looked at information already available in public documents to help them understand which parts of Allerdale, outside of the Lake District National Park, could be included and where there were difficulties and opportunities. They carefully considered available research on local geology and other key factors such as safety, environment, engineering feasibility, transport infrastructure and value for money - and listened to the views expressed by members of the public at both face-to-face and online events held throughout the summer.
When all this information was pulled together, the Working Group was able to narrow down the search to a specific part of Allerdale. RWM then evaluated the Working Group’s suggestion and concluded that the Search Area identified, including the area beyond the coast (deep below the seabed), does have the potential to accommodate a GDF deep underground, and the infrastructure needed on the surface.
However, this evaluation has not confirmed whether the Search Area is actually suitable to host a GDF, only that it has the potential, so further investigation work will be needed.
What happens next and where do you fit in?
The next part of the process involves forming a Community Partnership to continue the conversation locally, which can only go ahead with participation from a relevant principal Local Authority (County or Borough Council).
If a Community Partnership is formed, there will be a process for identifying groups, organisations and individuals, who are reflective of the community to continue this work as Community Partnership members.
At that point, £1m per year will be available in Community Investment Funding for projects, schemes and initiatives that improve community well-being, enhance the natural and built environment or provide economic development opportunities that benefit communities in the Search Area. The Community Partnership (should one be formed) may also define its own locally-specific criteria, in line with these principles.
If investigations progress to the point at which Radioactive Waste Management need to drill boreholes, funding would increase to £2.5m per year.
The Community Partnership will be tasked with ensuring that any final proposal for a GDF fits the community vision and the Working Group hope that, as key members of your community, you will engage in the conversation as opportunities arise.
It’s important to remember that a GDF will only be built where there is a willing host community and a suitable site which can be shown to be safe. If the community doesn’t want it, it won’t be built. It’s as simple as that.
Until a decision on forming a Community Partnership is made, the Allerdale GDF Working Group will be continuing its conversations with Search Area communities. They would welcome your input and encourage you to sign up to their newsletter, attend community drop-in sessions, take part in online events, or get in touch using the details below.
Further information can be found on the website: www.allerdale.workinginpartnership.org.uk/get-involved
Call: 0300 369 0000
For hearing and speech impaired customers please call via Relay UK on 18001 (all calls are charged at local rate)
Write to: Allerdale GDF Working Group, GDF Enquiries, PO Box 734, Swansea, SA1 9RP