Government plans to stop councils from being able to veto construction of underground radioactive waste facilities have been branded ‘undemocratic’ by a senior MP.
Under new Government proposals, regions that help to find a local site for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) could receive up to £1m per year. This figure would rise to as much as £2.5m for each community that sees actual intrusive ground investigations to assess a potentially suitable location in their area.
It is thought such a move could lead to communities pocketing over £40m.
The plans would also stop any one tier of local government from being able to block construction of a GDF.
However Liberal Democrat president and South Lakes MP Tim Farron said the plans made ‘an absolute mockery of the idea of localism’ and should be dropped ‘quickly’.
Cumbria County Council last year rejected plans to store nuclear waste in the region.
Energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey said communities that hosted a GDF would benefit from jobs for hundreds of people.
‘Today we’re setting out our plan to find a suitable site, based on a fundamental principle of listening to people, to make sure we have the right process in place. The area that eventually hosts a GDF will benefit from significant investment in the community and hundreds of skilled jobs for decades to come,’ Davey said.
‘Building and running a GDF will be a multi-billion pound infrastructure project, which will bring significant economic benefits to a community.’
Farron called for Cumbria County Council to have a ‘key say’ in any local decision on a GDF.
‘We have an energy crisis but this decision has nothing to do with that - the Geological Disposal Facility should not be foisted on a community without their wholehearted support,’ he said.
‘The mooted plans to remove the veto for local councils against a nuclear repository is undemocratic and makes an absolute mockery of the idea of localism. The Government need to drop that idea, and quickly.’
‘Our area is one of the least geologically suitable places to bury this waste in the country - we must not now be forced to store this waste against the will of so many local people, and with such detriment to the Lake District's precious brand’