The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) notes that over 70 Welsh unitary, county, city, town and community councils have passed resolutions formally opposing taking any interest in hosting a deep underground radioactive waste repository. (1)
The figure was noted at a joint meeting in Menai Bridge organised by the NFLA Welsh Forum in conjunction with the groups PAWB, CADNO and CND Cymru. (2)
At a presentation provided by the NFLA Secretary, he noted that there had been real anger and frustration raised across Welsh and Northern Irish Councils in particular to the request made by the UK Government for considering hosting a large deep underground repository to store over 60 years of higher activity radioactive waste, as well as possibly additional waste should new nuclear power stations ever be built. Even in England, a number of nuclear site Councils have indicated their public opposition to hosting a repository. NFLA have noted some of these issues in its response to RWM regarding its consultation on how any proposed sites will be evaluated. (3)
The current approach by the UK Government for deep ‘geological disposal’, a policy supported by the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, is the sixth time such an endeavour has been pursued, going back over almost forty years. The angry response from Councils is a clear indication that government and the nuclear industry have failed to understand the mistakes from these previous attempts. The particular concerns and currents clear in both Welsh and Northern Ireland politics about taking higher activity waste that they see as largely originating from elsewhere is also evident.
NFLA remains sceptical that a deep underground repository is the answer to this intractable problem, and is more supportive of the Scottish Government’s alternative approach of ‘near site, near surface’ monitorable and retrievable waste facilities. NFLA is also keeping a close eye on developments in Sweden over the design of copper canisters that could be used for a deep underground facility, which have previously been rejected by the Swedish Environmental Court.
At the NFLA’s joint public meeting in Menai Bridge, attendees including senior councillors and members of community and energy groups, were provided with four informative and thought-provoking presentations that enriched a wide panel and public discussion.
- Professor Steve Thomas provided a thorough critical analysis of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors. A detailed report on these matters is being planned for publication shortly.
- NFLA Secretary Sean Morris gave a full overview of the radioactive waste issue.
- Beca Roberts from Community Energy Wales outlined its valuable and engaging work, particularly in the North Wales region.
- Robat Idris provided the thinking behind a planned launch of a ‘Mon-Gwynedd Manifesto’ which outlines how the area can redevelop following the decision by Hitachi to halt development of Wylfa B. This is centred on creating local jobs in renewable energy generation, energy efficiency and energy storage.
Following the upcoming local elections in England and Ireland, NFLA will be publishing its latest analysis of best practice in local energy generation and how Councils are responding to the ‘climate emergency’. This report will show the positive role Councils can, and are, playing in reducing carbon and mitigating the worst excesses of climate change.
NFLA Welsh Forum Chair, Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
“It is remarkable to see over 70 Welsh Councils have passed resolutions raising concern and opposing making any expression of interest over the hosting of a deep underground radioactive waste repository. The equally robust response in Northern Ireland and amongst some English Councils confirms the depth of the challenge for government and the nuclear industry to develop such a facility at a time when both are also struggling to get practical and financial support for new nuclear power stations. NFLA is not in the slightest bit surprised that so many Councils are concerned with the offer to store such highly radioactive waste for very long periods of time. NFLA will continue to work with such Councils and its member authorities to ensure its robust and clear views of concern on the long-term management and storage of waste are fully taken into account”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Councils which have rejected hosting a Geological Disposal Facility – i.e. a deep underground nuclear waste repository:
- County Councils: Anglesey, Ceredigion, Denbighshire, Neath Port Talbot, Powys, Swansea and Wrexham imminently (http://www.wrexham.com/news/wrexham-council-will-say-no-to-nuclear-waste-geological-disposal-facility-166752.html).
- City or Town Councils: Aberystwyth, Bala, Bangor, Caerphilly, Crickhowell, Cwmaman, Ffestiniog, Holywell, Llwchwr, Newport (Pembrokeshire), Pontarddulais, Porthmadog, Presteigne and Norton, Tregaron, Welshpool.
- Community Councils: Abenbury, Abervalley, Acton, Arthog, Bausley with Criggion, Beddgelert, Bethesda, Betws, Bodedern, Brymbo, Buan, Caia Park, Cilycwm, Felinfach, Ganllwyd, Gelligaer, Gorslas, Gwernaffield and Pantymwyn, Johnston, Kilgetty-Begelly, Llanbadrig, Llandygai, Llanedi, Llanengan, Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, Llangeitho, Llangelynnin, Llangynog, Llanidloes Without, Llanllechid, Llannon, Llanrhidian Higher, Mawddwy, Mechell, Merlin’s Bridge, Mochdre with Penstrowed, Mostyn, New Radnor, Offa, Overton, Pennard, Pentraeth, Pentyrch, Redwick, Rhossili, Shirenewton, Taff’s Well and Nantgarw, Tawe Uchaf, Trewern, Tudweiliog.
Information provided to the NFLA by CND Cymru –
(2) Presentations from the public meeting in Menai Bridge on the 13th April can be found at:
(3) NFLA Radioactive Waste Policy Briefing 77, 1st April 2019