HL Deb 21 March 1989 vol 505 cc676-7WA
Baroness Blatch

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have yet received proposals from UK Nirex concerning the choice of sites for the disposal of radioactive waste.

The Earl of Caithness

Nirex's report and recommendations on the disposal of low and intermediate-level radioactive waste in a deep repository were submitted to government on 28th February. Nirex recommends that a repository should be constructed in the form of a mine under the land, and that the next steps should be to carry out detailed geological studies, including the sinking of boreholes, in the vicinity of Sellafield and Dounreay. In arriving at these recommendations Nirex has concluded that it would be best to explore first those sites where there is some measure of local support for civil nuclear activities. The further evaluation of the geology of these two areas will enable Nirex to decide on their suitability for construction of a repository, or whether it will be necessary to evaluate other sites.

The Government, having consulted the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee (RWMAC), accepts the report and notes that Nirex, having examined the arguments for storage rather than disposal of radioactive waste, has endorsed the Government's policy of disposal. The Government agree that further exploratory work is necessary before any particular site can be decided upon, and that it is for Nirex to obtain the necessary planning permissions through the normal procedures. Only when these investigations have been undertaken will Nirex be in a position to submit proposals for a substantive development and to seek the necessary approvals.

I have today decided to accept the recommendations made to me by the inspector, that the appeal by British Nuclear Fuels plc against Cumbria County Council's refusal of planning permission to drill an exploratory geological borehole at Sellafield should be allowed.

Copies of the decision letter on the borehole drilling at Sellafield have today been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies of the Nirex report will be placed in the Libraries shortly. Further copies of the report will be available from Nirex.