Copeland, Allerdale and Cumbria councils' cabinets vote today on whether the "MRWS" (Managing Radioactive Waste Safely) process should proceed to stage four, which is a five year desk-based study to see whether there is an area of suitable geology in a district which votes to proceed.
* Voting to proceed to stage four is not an irrevocable commitment - we could still back out at any time up to the point when construction is due to start
* Stage four will not mean intrusive large-scale excavations - it is a desk based study.
* A number of people claim to know whether the geology is suitable. The simple fact is that not enough work has been done to allow either side of the argument to know this for certain, and the whole point of stage four is to start investigating the facts so that we can find out.
* Those districts which are not taking part will not be affected in any way, shape or form.
Suggestions that people in Eden, South Lakes, Carlisle or Barrow have anything to worry about are complete, 100% nonsense. We already have the waste here in Cumbria, the question is whether we can find a better, safer, and more environmentally friendly solution that where it is at the moment.
Lynn Berger, who runs the Woolpack Inn near Boot in the Eskdale Valley, has made the same point to the BBC that another person highly involved in tourism made to me in a private conversation at the weekend: Lynn is
more concerned about the effect of "scaremongering" on tourism than the facility
"It's not going to make any difference to us from a radiation point of view,"
"And, if anything, everything is so much more controlled because it
[Sellafield] is there. The house isn't going to fall down, we're not going to
bash a hole in the cellar wall and find the beer turns green."
In May 2012 - the results of an Ipsos Mori poll suggested a majority is in favour of
considering hosting the facility. In Copeland, which covers Sellafield, 68% of
people backed entering formal talks with government. Across Cumbria as a whole,
53% were in favour and 33% opposed.
Unfortunately however those who are opposed have been much more vocal than supporters accross the county as a whole. There has been a massive scaremongering campaign and a huge amount of pressure has been brought to bear on councillors to try to block the MRWS process.
I believe in democracy, not because it is perfect but because in the words of Winston Churchill, it is the worst system there is "except for all the others." That's why I support a referendum in the district concerned before any repository goes ahead, though that is years down the line yet.
The nuclear waste is not going away and killing the MRWS process will not resolve the issue. I hope Copeland votes to proceed to stage four today, and I hope the county council votes to work with those parts of the county which vote to proceed - Copeland, Allerdale, both, or neither, but it will not include Carlisle, Barrow, Eden or South Lakes - and that they should be allowed to do so.