Shepway rejects nuclear disposal facility plans

After a council meeting Wednesday night (19 September), Kent’s Shepway Council has decided not to move forward with government plans for a proposed nuclear research and disposal facility on Romney Marsh.

The government has been gauging local authorities’ interest in building a UK nuclear repository site, after the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) recommended burying radioactive waste deep underground in a secure facility, in 2006. Currently, all nuclear waste in the UK is held in surface-level stores around the UK .

Last week, members of the public and businesses voted against the idea of establishing an underground nuclear waste facility, which would share its location with Dungeness nuclear power station. Sixty-three per cent of members of the public voted against the facility, as did 50 per cent of businesses, according to reports by the BBC.

After debating the pros and cons of the facility at a council meeting last night, 21 councillors voted against submitting an 'Expression of Interest' to the government, 13 voted in favour, and four abstained from voting.

Concerns remain among councillors about the economic strength of the area once the nuclear power station has closed (Dungeness A is currently being decommissioned, and Dungeness B is set to close before 2023), but seem to be in agreement about voting with the public on the issue.

"We would have failed the Romney Marsh if we had not seized the opportunity to explore a project that would bring potential benefits worth millions of pounds. It was absolutely right to take this issue to the people of the Marsh and give them the chance to have their say", said Councillor Robert Bliss.

Bliss also said that the council will continue to lobby for Dungeness C and said the Council will put pressure on the government to make a decision on the expansion of Lydd Airport.

"We will also be working with Kent County Council, which has pledged to support the marsh's regeneration by directing serious investment into the area", said Bliss.

"I am very keen to discuss with the Leader of the County how we can progress this assurance."

To date, West Cumbria has been the only British region to volunteer to host the controversial site.