West Cumbria nuclear waste debate: argument AGAINST

Should west Cumbria look for a site to bury nuclear waste?

Tomorrow 24 councillors will decide whether the west of the county will look for a possible site to bury nuclear waste.

Opponents say an underground waste store would affect tourism and are concerned that it could be unsafe.

Fourteen million people visit Cumbria every year bringing with them £2bn for the local economy.

Those against moving forward to look for a possible site say tourism could be at risk if the Lake District National Park continues to be considered for an underground nuclear waste store.

Parts of west Cumbria have already been ruled out due to unsuitable geology.

In Ennerdale there are concerns that the facility could be built under the valley. Following an information day homeowners voted on the issue in a referendum.

"This referendum we held in Ennerdale was very clearly opposed. About 95% to 5% oppose this continuing and I hope that the councils will take note of this and that they will go back to government and ask for the process to be reviewed. "They should focus initially on the geology and then bring in volunteer communities."

Those living in the village say they are not anti nuclear but want the National Park to be ruled out of any search.

"A lot of people in Ennerdale are employed at Sellafield. This is not an anti nuclear campaign this is not an anti Sellafield issue this is an issue which regards the industrialisation of the National Park - something that should not even be considered."

Friends of the Lake District argue more work needs to be done before looking for a site. They are urging the councils not to proceed tomorrow.

"Cumbria is a centre of excellence for the nuclear industries and we have to remember there have been many thousands of jobs associated with dealing with the nuclear legacy and indeed new nuclear build if a new power station is built at Moorside. "So it is not about repository equals jobs it is abut looking at the whole economy for the nuclear industries and indeed other industries Cumbria wide whether it's tourism, farming or the water industry."

During the 1980s Longlands farm near Gosforth was identified as a possible underground nuclear waste store by Nirex but following an extensive public inquiry planning consent was denied.

Friends of the Earth have questioned why the area is being considered again. They fought the Nirex decision alongside the Cumbria County Council. They don't want an underground waste store built in the county.

"There seems to be an attitude 'even if the geology is unsuitable we will solve it with the engineering' but that is a technical fix that we are asked to put our faith in and I for one have problems with putting my faith in an industry that has perpetually said it will be all right on the day. But frankly in west Cumbria has a very poor track record of making things all right on the day."

The three councils of Allerdale, Copeland and Cumbria County Council will decide whether or not to look for a possible site on 30th January. Samantha Parker, ITV News, west Cumbria