Radioactive Waste

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th January 1988.

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Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington 12:00 am, 20th January 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the management of nuclear waste.

Photo of Mr Colin Moynihan Mr Colin Moynihan , Lewisham East

My right hon. Friend has received a number of representations, which have been referred to Nirex.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

Is the Minister aware that when British Nuclear Fuels offered up West Cumbria as a sacrificial lamb in a quest to find a national facility for disposal of intermediate-level nuclear waste, it had no mandate from the district authorities, no mandate from the county authorities and no mandate for doing so from the industrial development auhorities responsible for creating jobs in West Cumbria? Will the Minister give an assurance that this decision will be taken on the most objective of criteria and will not be influenced by the whims of the monopolist employer and dominator of the West Cumbrian economy—British Nuclear Fuels?

Photo of Mr Colin Moynihan Mr Colin Moynihan , Lewisham East

I can give that categorical assurance.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

Is my hon. Friend aware that I have a certain amount of sympathy with the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), and I, can imagine what his constituents must be going through? Will my hon. Friend draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that if the Labour party were in Government arrangements would now be in hand for a low-level shallow facility for the disposal of intermediate and low-level waste? Have we not made some improvement, in that the hon. Gentleman's constituents have an opportunity of consultation and are being consulted at the present time?

Photo of Mr Colin Moynihan Mr Colin Moynihan , Lewisham East

There is no doubt that opportunities for full consultation in such an exercise are essential. I give a categorical assurance to my hon. Friend that there will be the fullest and most comprehensive consultation exercise once Nirex has come forward with a proposal for the Government's consideration.

Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment

Does the Minister recall the unanimous report of the Select Committee on the subject of nuclear waste, which was chaired by the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Sir H. Rossi)? It recommended that site—specific research was essential before any site could be properly indentified, let alone used? Does he recall that a great deal of waste is accumulating on the surface of the British Nuclear Fuels site at Sellafield and that the Labour-controlled Copeland borough council has made it clear to British Nuclear Fuels that the continuing proliferation of surface buildings to house intermediate-level waste is unacceptable to the council and the community? How can we ever develop a long-term strategy for the storage of intermediate-level nuclear waste if no research and discussions are allowed to get off the gound?

Photo of Mr Colin Moynihan Mr Colin Moynihan , Lewisham East

The hon. Gentleman knows that in no way would it be right or proper for me to pre-empt what Nirex will come forward with. All I can say is that I am certain that the consultation exercise that is under way will be rigorously looked at and that the proposals that come forward will take account of the sort of points raised by the hon. Gentleman.