HC Deb 17 March 2004 vol 419 cc284-5W
Dr. Jack Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions she has had with(a) the Scottish Executive, (b) the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and (c) the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority about proposals by the latter to transfer low level radioactive waste from Dounreay to Drigg; why the application for a licence was not advertised in England; and if she will make a statement: [160504]

(2) whether she has agreed to proposals by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority to transfer radioactive waste from Dounreay to Drigg in Cumbria. [160505]

Mr. Morley

[holding answer 15 March 2004]The Secretary of State has not had discussions with the Scottish Executive, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) or the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) about these proposals.

The low-level radioactive waste (LLW) disposal site at Drigg in Cumbria is owned by BNFL and is operated by the company on a commercial basis as a United Kingdom facility. BNFL hold an authorisation from the Environment Agency to dispose of LLW at Drigg. I understand that the proposed transfer of waste from Dounreay to Drigg could be accommodated within BNFL's existing authorisation for the site. I also understand that the consultation arrangements adopted in this case were consistent with those for other such transfers to Drigg from sites tin oughout the United Kingdom. It was not, therefore, considered necessary by the regulators to advertise this application in England.

I understand from the Environment Agency that they intend to carry out a comprehensive review of BNFL's authorisation for Drigg later this year. As part of this review, full public consultations will be undertaken.

The application by UKAEA to transfer LLW to Drigg has been made to SEPA, whose responsibility it is to determine the application under the provisions of the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, subject to the powers of Scottish Ministers. Given that Drigg is operated as a United Kingdom facility and that its existing authorisation is sufficient to cover the proposed transfer, it is not necessary for the Secretary of State to be involved in determining UKAEA's current application.

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