The Whitehaven News
SELLAFIELD CASE IS HEARD AT NO 10
GOVERNMENT ministers were told this week of the huge importance of Sellafield to the community.
A local delegation went to 10 Downing Street on Tuesday to put their case for Sellafield's MOX plant. Although unable to meet the Prime Minister as planned, they spoke with other ministers and Mr Blair's advisers.
The £300 million Mox plant needs the government go-ahead to operate.
Copeland Council leader Robin Simpson and his Aller-dale counterpart, Mark Fryer, were in the Downing Street delegation as part of the Sort Out Sellafield campaign headed by Copeland MP Jack Cunningham.
Dr Cunningham said: "Energy minister Peter Hain and the No 10 team gave us a very fair hearing.
"We outlined the huge importance to our community of the Sellafield Mox plant in particular and the industry in general and I believe the minister recognised the force of our arguments.
"Our priority is to see a start to the consultation process which we believe must precede the full commissioning of the plant.
"Frustrating as it may seem, we have to wait and see what the government says but we left our meetings feeling hopeful."
However, Copeland council's Tory leader Mike Graham, who is not in the campaign group, was scathing about the success of the delegation.
"They have come back with nothing. This is the second occasion this drum has been beaten and again it is followed by a deafening silence.
"All this business has been going on four years, with delay after delay while the future of Sellafield is at stake and I am extremely concerned about that future.
"There seems to be no indication from government of whether they are minded or not to grant a licence for Mox."
Coun Simpson said: "We told ministers that the Mox plant was an environmental plus: instead of potentially hazardous waste, we are creating a powerful and clean energy source."
Whitehaven chamber of trade president Lavinia Garrett was also in the London delegation.
She said: "I told them how Sellafield puts £100 million a year into our local tills. Without all that we simply couldn't survive."
Allerdale's Coun Fryer said: "We stressed that although we were two local authorities we were one community and, without government support for Sellafield, we could put the lights out and close the door on that community."
l Tony Blair apologised for not meeting the delegation due to another meeting on the foot-and-mouth crisis.