October 19, 2021 3.47 pm

East Lindsey council joins Theddlethorpe nuclear storage site working group

Too late to turn their back to it

Councillors at East Lindsey District Council have voted in favour of joining a working group to discuss a multi-billion pound nuclear waste disposal facility in Theddlethorpe.

The group was officially launched by Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) last Tuesday and members of ELDC’s Overview Committee on Tuesday voted in favour of recommending to the authority’s executive that they take part in discussions around the potential plans for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) in Theddlethorpe.

The authority follows in the footsteps of Lincolnshire County Council, which voted in favour of joining the group officially on October 5.

Council leader Craig Leyland said his executive were minded to join, but added they were “fully understanding the very controversial nature of this invitation and what it means for the local community.”

He said the wheels had already started following LCC joining and warned it would go ahead with or without ELDC. He vowed to feed information back to the council and local community.

“As leader… I want to make sure that all residents have as much information as possible… Before you make a decision you need to have adequate information, adequate knowledge and understanding of what this whole process is and whatever the decision was the council should should support that,” he said.

Supporting the motion, Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders said: “Just because we sit around the table doesn’t mean to say we’re saying ‘go ahead and do it’. It’s listening so that we have all the facts before we take the decision and that‘s got to be the right way for this council to go.”

However, she said she was particularly concerned about the plight of the residents.

“People’s house sales have already stopped dead and if this is going to go on for years and years and years, I think we do need to be looking at the effect.

“There is a ripple effect coming out of choosing to look at a site like that, it will have an effect on life in Mablethorpe, it will have an effect in life in Alford, and it will have the effect of life in Louth.”

Councillors indicated they had a number of questions they wanted to be answered, including more specifically around location of the GDF.

Ward Councillor Sandra Harrison said there had been much stress among her constituents. “Some of them have referred to the period of waiting as the ‘phoney war’ because it felt so helpless,” she said.

ELDC’s Overview Committee discussed the working group on Tuesday. | Photo: Daniel Jaines

Around 10% of the UK’s nuclear waste needs to be disposed of in more secure ways for thousands of years, and the GDF would aim to do that through a mix of engineered and natural barriers between 200-1,000 metres underground.

Theddlethorpe is one such location where storage could be placed, with potential solutions being to manoeuvre the waste out under the sea bed through a series of underground tunnels.

The surface site itself would be around 1sqkm, with the rest of the facility 200-1,000 metres underground. If plans to take the storage out to sea are confirmed, they would travel around 5-10km out.

The working group will take 6-12 months to carry out its initial processes, which will include starting conversations with local communities, identifying a search area to undertake feasibility studies.

It will also head up the setting up a longer-term partnership of local authorities, organisations, community groups and RWM, called a Community Partnership, which will cover the rest of the decision making process over the next 10-15 years until a test of support (such as a referendum) is carried out.

The plans have already sparked opposition campaigners into action with protests being held outside LCC’s offices for both previous meetings around the working group.

No protest was held outside ELDC on Tuesday out of respect for MP David Amess who was killed on Friday.

However, campaigners were watching the meeting with interest. They fear that the Test of Public Support could be removed in the future if no willing community is found or that RWM will push for a much larger search area than Theddlethorpe.

Following the meeting, Sara Bright said it would “not be in our interest for ELDC to boycott the working group” now that LCC had already joined.

However, she said: “We expect our local councillors to research way beyond the glossy RWM literature and become au fait with the local geology, look at the full impact of areas close to other nuclear installations, research how major construction is managed by large companies and take an in-depth view of job descriptions in the nuclear industry.

“They will be held fully accountable by the residents of East Lindsey. There is no margin for error with this proposed GDF.”

Protestors outside Lincolnshire County Council sang covers of popular songs changed to be thematic to their campaign at a recent executive meeting. | Photo: Daniel Jaines

Brian Swift said he hoped the working group would “carefully consider the worries and anxieties of the local community,” adding: “Nobody I have spoken to can see any benefit in the nuclear dump coming to Theddlethorpe”.

He said the area faced “10-15 years of indecision and uncertainty, which will inevitable affect people’s mental health and general wellbeing”.

He also warned councils against a “wall of silence” adding it would only add to feelings of mistrust.

ELDC’s executive committee will examine the plans on November 4.

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