February 8, 2022 1.55 pm

‘Search area’ revealed for Lincolnshire coast nuclear storage facility

The plans have been causing debate for some time

A ‘search area’ has been identified for a proposed nuclear storage facility on the Lincolnshire coast to ‘safely and securely dispose of higher activity radioactive waste’.

Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) is exploring the possibility of using Theddlethorpe’s former gas terminal as an entry site to a nuclear storage dump, and today announced Mablethorpe, as well as the Withern & Theddlethorpe ward will be included in its ‘search area’ for the proposed facility.

In a controversial move, Lincolnshire County Council’s executive last year voted in favour of joining a nuclear storage working group with council leader Martin Hill as LCC’s representative.

The map of the search area.

The Theddlethorpe GDF (Geological Disposal Facility) Working Group held a media meeting at Kenwick Park Hotel in Louth on Tuesday, February 8, when the ‘search area’ was announced. This is the geographical area within which the GDF developer will look to find a potential site.

The search area will cover two district council electoral wards – Withern & Theddlethorpe, and Mablethorpe. (The area has to be based on district electoral ward boundaries and it can be no smaller than a district council electoral ward.)

The ward of Mablethorpe has been included because it is close to the boundary of the gas terminal site, and is a potential location for facilities.

However, the process of finding a site is likely to take many years, and other areas of England including west Cumbria are also being considered. A GDF will only be built in Lincolnshire if there is a willing community and a suitable site which can be shown to be safe. If the community doesn’t want it, it won’t be built, the Theddlethorpe GDF Working Group said.

The GDF has two parts – a surface facility of around 1 sq km where the waste would arrive, and deep below ground where the waste is disposed of. The area off the coast, deep beneath the seabed will be considered for the larger facility.

An illustrative example of what a GDF surface facility could look like. | Image: Supplied

Jon Collins, independent chairman of the Theddlethorpe GDF Working Group, said: “The Working Group looked at readily available information on things like local geology, environmental issues, transport, and safety. We also listened to the views expressed locally, including at the face-to-face events we ran last year.

“If we move to the next stage of the process, this information and the two wards we’ve identified give us a sensible starting point to begin the work of a Community Partnership, should one be formed.

“It’s important to stress that no decision has been made on whether a GDF will be built in this area, and this is only the beginning of a long conversation over many years about what’s right for the area”.

In the next couple of weeks local residents will receive a letter from the working group explaining how the search area was identified, as well as details of a programme of events set to begin on March 4.

Theddlethorpe resident Brian Swift contacted The Lincolnite to express his “discontent” ahead of the search area announcement, copying in his MP, RWM, and local councillors.

He said: “The small community of Theddlethorpe are overwhelmingly against the idea of hosting a GDF but after Tuesday’s announcement we find that our protestations will be more than cancelled out by yet another self serving council with an eye on the prize.

“We will watch carefully the way and by whom the money is bid for, be sure this is the only involvement Theddlethorpe will have in the bidding process. We are now even more intent on expressing our opposition to the GDF siting process and the total lack of concern for those most affected by the blight and uncertainty it has placed upon the residents.”

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

Sara Bright is part of Guardians of the East Coast (GOTEC), a group set up to prevent the exploitation of the East Lincolnshire Coast by the nuclear industry. Ahead of the group’s meeting at Theddlethorpe village hall on Tuesday, the group said in a statement to The Lincolnite: “GOTEC were expecting this to happen but for more reasons than NWS (RWM) state. We see this as a bit of a stalking horse.”

The statement added that the group has “further concerns that when the vitrification process becomes economically unviable at Sellafield, it would make business sense to transfer that operation close to the GDF”.

The group said: “Our aim is to protect the beautiful east coast for residents, businesses and holidaymakers. There are far better projects that could be undertaken on the Theddlethorpe Gas Terminal Site.”

Kieran Somers, siting manager for the GDF developer, said a “future Community Partnership could change the search area as proposals develop in more detail, for example, if new infrastructure like roads or a rail link were needed”.

If a Community Partnership is formed there will be a process for identifying groups, organisations and individuals and will be reflective of the community. At that point, the search area will be eligible to benefit from £1 million per year in Community Investment Funding for projects, schemes and initiatives to improve the local area.

If investigations progress to the point at which boreholes are drilled, funding would increase to £2.5 million per year, to be spent on projects within the area.

For more information on RWM and the Working Group click here and for more from GOTEC click here.