One of the last decisions of the 2010-2015 Parliament, the Coalition government swiftly passed the Infrastructure Planning (Radioactive Waste Geological Disposal Facilities) Order 2015 with no debate in the House of Commons. This Order extends the Planning Act 2008 to cover nuclear waste disposal.
Over 300 MPs failed to vote. Among those were 246 Labour MPs, 57 Conservatives and 18 Liberal Democrats. The parliamentary record does not show whether they abstained or did not turn up.
241 Conservatives voted in favour – including Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker, along with 30 Lib Dems, 1 Labour (Barry Sheerman, Huddersfield), 3 DUP and 1 UKIP.
The original post starts here
Parliament is considering rapid legislation that would remove the right of County Councils to object to burying radioactive waste underground, potentially at levels where water circulates.
You might want to write to your MP asap, asking him not to vote for this proposal. If so, there is a template letter at the end of this article you can use if you like.
This proposed legislation is the ConDem government’s response to the 2013 refusal of Cumbria County Council to accept plans to bury highly toxic nuclear waste under the Lake District. This decision was a major blow to government ambitions to build new nuclear power plants.
Coalition government wants to move goalposts
Now the ConDem government is trying to move the goal posts, through the Infrastructure Planning (Radioactive Waste Geological Disposal Facilities) Order 2015. This extends the Planning Act 2008 to cover nuclear waste disposal.
To pass this extension of the Planning Act into law requires the ‘affirmative procedure’ of approval. This means it must be positively approved by each House of Parliament before coming into force. Writing on 26 Jan 2015 in a law firm blog, specialist planning and infrastructure lawyer Angus Wilson explained that this approval should happen in the next couple of weeks.
In the same blog post, Angus Wilson wrote,
“Of course this isn’t a random extension to the [planning] regime, the government has in mind the creation of one such facility, likely to be in Cumbria. It tried before but in January 2013 the project was vetoed by Cumbria County Council. It’s trying again and for obvious reasons has removed the ability for a county council to veto the process.”
Related removal of landowners’ right to deny access to underground fracking?
Hebden Bridge anti-fracking activist Helen Chuntso told Plain Speaker,
“The UK does not have the land mass, simple geology or low population density to recreate the shale gas boom seen in the USA. Economically, it doesn’t make sense (except maybe in very gas rich areas, certainly not 2/3 of the country, which is why the DECC are wavering on the fracking National Parks like N Yorkshire Moors). One possible explanation for the drilling is to look for places to bury nuclear waste. The government has forced through legislation that will remove our right to deny access to underground fracking, and now this new bill attempts to remove the right of the county council, to object to burying radioactive waste underground, potentially at levels where water circulates.”
If you would like to take action, writing to your MP is a good start. You can find their email address here.
Here is a template letter to your MP
I am writing to ask you to consider speaking out against and voting against the addition of radioactive waste geological disposal facilities (GDFs) to the list of nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs).
It is undemocratic to remove county councils from the process, along with the opportunity for proper scrutiny of development plans and the chance for people to object. In Cumbria, where a GDF proposal has been on the cards for some time, there has been significant resistance from local people and the county council. Given that Cumbria County Council is a pro-nuclear council and they had legitimate concerns about the GDF plans it would be extremely unwise to exclude this level of government and thereby the people that they represent from planning decisions.
I oppose the dumping of nuclear waste underground since the consequences are largely unknown. There is no guarantee that the facilities can contain the radionuclides long-term, and not enough knowledge of how water flows underground, or how it travels though faults in rocks. Dangerous levels of radioactivity could end up in aquifers that supply drinking water.
I believe that existing nuclear waste should be stored in a retrievable manner at the surface, or near to the surface, in line with Scotland’s Higher Activity Radioactive Waste Policy 2011. Waste could then be monitored and managed appropriately without risk of exposure to water supplies, and without additional cause for concern for future generations.
Here is the link to lawyer Angus Wilson’s blog post