Councillor Marion Fitzgerald from Allerdale Borough Council explains what the council got involved in the Allerdale GDF working Group.
Q1 Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you became involved in the GDF project?
A1: In common with most residents of Cumbria, I am interested in the nuclear industry because it’s part of the county’s heritage. Most of the UK’s higher activity nuclear waste is currently stored in surface facilities at Sellafield in the neighbouring district of Copeland. However, many Allerdale residents either work at Sellafield or for businesses which are part of the nuclear supply chain. Therefore, it’s essential that the Council recognises the role of the nuclear industry in this area.
Q2 Why have Allerdale Borough Council decided to get involved and join the Working Group?
A2 ; Our involvement is the best way to make sure that our residents and businesses have access to information. The Working Group is an information gathering exercise. Whether the GDF is eventually built here in West Cumbria or elsewhere in the country, that decision will affect Allerdale because the waste is already stored above ground in West Cumbria. That’s why we decided to be involved and part of the discussion.
Q3 ; What is it about the GDF project that the council believes is important to Allerdale?
A3 ; We recognise that wherever the GDF is eventually built, the people of Allerdale will be affected. Because the search for a GDF site is a long-term project that can deliver significant benefits in terms of investment in infrastructure, jobs, and skills, it is important that our community is provided with all of the information relating to this process. The council weighed up the decision to get involved, recognising that ultimately it will be a community decision, and that we can help to ensure that our residents receive the information that they require.
Q4: Is there a message that you’d like to say to the residents, businesses and communities in Allerdale?
A4: I’d like to reassure the people of Allerdale that participating in the Working Group is not a signal that the council wants a GDF to come here – that will be for the people to decide. The Council is not an Interested Party. The Council does, however, recognise its responsibility to make sure that our residents have access to as much information as they need about the project.
Q5: What do you see as the Working Group’s, priorities?
A5: The aim of the Working Group is to investigate the potential for siting a GDF within Allerdale. We already know that the Lake District National Park is going to be excluded from the search in terms of investigation both above and below ground and there may be other parts of the borough that are also unsuitable. The Working Group will seek to refine the search area for any potentially suitable locations. The Working Group will also seek to engage with the community and local stakeholders.
Q6: Why now and what’s your view of what’s different this time?
This time community consent is at the heart of the process. I hope that the provision of information and early community engagement opportunities will mean that our residents feel that they are being listened to from the outset.