Thursday, December 13, 2001

People from the local community must become involved in the national debate on the future management of radioactive waste, says a borough councillor.

Coun Margaret Devlin told a meeting of the environmental policy group: "Unions, councils, Friends of the Earth, CORE, they all have their say but the ordinary people of West Cumbria, they don't have a voice."

Copeland Council has to make a response to the government's consultation paper, Managing Radioactive Waste Safely, and is seeking the public's views on the subject via a variety of means: citizen's panels, Copeland Matters, a telephone survey, a series of talks across the borough and an interactive website.

Coun Devlin (Lab) said she felt it was important to get the views and ideas of "the ordinary people who live and work in West Cumbria''.

"We see offcomers and people who have an axe to grind, like FoE, giving their views but opinions from all sorts of people with other skills, interests and ideas are needed.

"It is the ordinary people who for generations have been born here who should have some sort of voice.

"This consultation must engage them and ask and listen to them. I don't think they have ever really been consulted.''

Coun Bob Docherty (Lab) said: "In all the consultation and discussions we need to be sure we have the facts and not a version of the facts, we want transparency in this from BNFL and Nirex etc. people need to know what is happening.''

Coun Janet Johnston (Lab) said she had been aghast for years at how the area had been exploited in terms of radioactive waste.

"It is not reflected in the roads and the infrastructure system - investment that would make living here more acceptable than it is.

"It is just not fair that we have to put up with this. I don't think we should be out of pocket, we should reap the benefits.

"These benefits can only come nationally from the government and we want to see more of them, now.''

l Cumbria County Council has called an open meeting of its Economic and Community Forums at Westlakes Science Park on Friday, December 21, starting at 10am. Consultation ends on March 3.

l A cross-party group of MPs who are members of the radioactive waste parliamentary sub-committee visited Sellafield on Monday. The purpose of the visit was to help the sub committee with their investigations in respect of the radioactive waste consultation.