A working group to explore the potential for a controversial multi-billion pound nuclear storage dump in Theddlethorpe on the Lincolnshire coast has been officially launched as another council voted to join.
Steve Reece, Head of Siting, said the launch of the group and an associated website about Radioactive Waste Management’s (RWM) potential plans for a Geological Disposal Facility in Theddlethorpe was a “significant step”, being the first one outside of Cumbria and the third nationally in total.
Lincolnshire County Council’s executive last Tuesday voted to join the working group, and Mr Reece confirmed on Tuesday that Theddlethorpe Parish Council had followed suit a few days later. Only East Lindsey District Council is due to make a decision, with the item going before scrutiny on October 19 and Executive on November 3.
Along with the councils, the working group will include independent chairman Jon Collins, the former Labour leader of Nottingham City Council, who has been appointed by RWM.
Mr Collins said: “I was pleased to be asked whether I would be interested in taking on this role as independent chair and I’m pleased to do so.
“I see the role very much as one of overseeing a process whereby we hear from not only both those people who are supportive of this proposal who want to explore it further, and those people who have already come to a conclusion and aren’t supportive, but also champion the interests of people who probably are somewhat in the middle.
“The GDF is a project of national importance and it’s unique in that it can only proceed with two things – a suitable site and a willing community.”
A local stakeholder group will also be formed — though the details of what this will include are yet to be confirmed.
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.
Mr Reece said: “The significance of today is really about being able to start our engagement more widely in the community, allowing local people to find out more about the project, exploring the issues that led us here and the concerns that people have been raising, and really start to get into dialogue and start to address some of those concerns.”
A programme of walk-in meetings with the working group team will start from October 27.