Ennerdale's nuclear debate

Ennerdale protest group Photo: 'NOEND' protest group

A community in west Cumbria fears it may be chosen to host an underground store for Britain's nuclear waste.

Residents in Ennerdale say their area of the Lake District is one of only a few places where the geology is thought to be suitable.

They've set up a protest group and are holding a referendum to find out the views of everyone in the community.

Samantha Parker has the full report:

A west Cumbrian community fears it may be chosen to host an underground store for Britain's nuclear waste.

Ennerdale householders say the area is one of only a few places where the geology is thought to be suitable.

A protest group has been set up and all 276 households will be asked for their views in a referendum.

"The community has become involved because they've not actually had the opportunity to express their views collectively and one of the things we are doing is holding a referendum. So after our people have been properly informed they make a decision on whether or not they wish to host this nuclear waste facility in our parish."

– Cllr David Wood, Ennerdale Parish council

A public meeting was held at the local pub where villagers were able to speak to those for and against the plans before casting their votes. The majority say they haven't been properly consulted.

This is disputed by members of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely partnership who spent three years gathering the opinions of those living in west Cumbria.

"It's been referred to as one of the probably the most extensive programmes of consultation that Cumbria has ever seen and that has involved about 100 different events, 10 additions of the newsletter through every door in Copeland and Allerdale along with other special interests and activities."

– Steve Smith, Copeland Borough Council

On 30th January the executives of the three local councils of Allerdale, Copeland and the county council will meet to decide whether to go through to the next stage of the process and look for a possible site. If they agree extensive work will be undertaken to find an area with a suitable geology.

The councils say no area has been identified as being suitable at this stage. If the councils do vote for some or all of west Cumbria to go through to the siting stage the west of the county can still withdraw at any stage until building work begins.

The views of the people of Ennerdale will be sent to all three councils ahead of their meetings on 30th January.