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Friends Go Neutral Over Nuclear Dump


Sellafield from Birker Fell - October 2023. Waste continues to arrive daily at Sellafield. Image credit: Lakes Against Nuclear Dump

Over the last couple of weeks I have been in correspondence with Cumbria's most influential and affluent landscape organisation the Friends of the Lake District and their parent body the Campaign to Protect Rural England. We are trying to dissuade them from continuing in the "Partnership" with Nuclear Waste Services on the "South Copeland Community Partnership" for the siting of a Geological Disposal Facility aka nuclear dump. Nuclear Waste Services have said: "The siting process belongs to Nuclear Waste Services as the Geological Disposal Facility Developer. Also, we ask all members to take a neutral stance" By being a "Partner" FoLD have, instead of campaigning to oppose the plan, pledged to be "Neutral" in the "process" which has one aim - the siting of a deep and very hot sub-sea nuclear dump from the Lake District Coast to deep under the Irish Sea. I am not a member of Friends of the Lake District although I am sure many supporters of Lakes Against Nuclear Dump are members and if enough of FoLD's and CPRE's members (and others!) write and urge them to drop their "Partnership" with Nuclear Waste Services then FoLD may be able do drop its agreed "neutrality" and do what they say they do on the tin and actually protect Cumbria.


There is a letter below and correspondence with Friends of the Lake District which you can use as inspiration for your own message to Friends of the Lake District email: info@fld.org.uk and CPRE email: info@cpre.org.uk

Letter below to Guardian (unpublished)

  • Dear Editor Friends Go Neutral Over Nuclear Dump Cumbria’s "only membership organisation dedicated to protecting and enhancing Cumbria's landscapes” has signed an agreement with the developer (Nuclear Waste Services) to be “neutral” regarding the biggest infrastructure development planned in Cumbria. Friends of the Lake District (FoLD) has joined the South Copeland Community Partnership to find a site for a Geological Nuclear Disposal Facility (GDF) in which to emplace Heat Generating Nuclear Wastes deep under the Lake District coast and under the Irish Sea. In previous decades FoLD along with many other groups have argued and been vindicated at least 4 times in public inquiry and Council decisions that a GDF in Cumbria would be neither “safe nor permanent.” FoLD’s joining of the “Partnership” is seen as a PR coup encouraging leading conservation charities to follow FoLD’s lead and be “neutralised". The Developer is desperate to find a "final solution” for nuclear wastes in order to justify new nuclear build and new wastes. The plan is to abandon the wastes deep underground meaning that future generations would have no chance of protecting themselves from radioactive wastes designed to leak with the hot fractured geology being the last line of defence. The enormous heat (100 degrees c +) is why the GDF plan is so big - to try and allow heat to dissipate into surrounding rocks. The heat would cause the seabed above the GDF to rise. There is no operational GDF for heat generating nuclear wastes worldwide with plans all in research phase. I urge members of FoLD and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England to withdraw from the “Partnership” with the Developer and instead to Partner with Lakes Against Nuclear Dump and campaign to protect the Lake District coast and Irish Sea from a deep nuclear dump. yours sincerely Marianne Birkby Lakes Against Nuclear Dump https://www.lakesagainstnucleardump.com/

  • Letters Published this week in the Whitehaven News and Westmorland Gazette


correspondence with Friends of the Lake District below Sent: Tuesday, 17 October 2023, 16:07:42 BST Subject: RE: Friends of the Lake District's involvement in the South Copeland Community Partnership Dear Marianne We will not be leaving the Community Partnership process for the reasons explained in my previous email to you. Regards, ----------- Policy Officer

  • www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk

  • From: Marianne B Sent: Tuesday, October 17

  • Subject: Re: Friends of the Lake District's involvement in the South Copeland Community Partnership Dear ....-----., Thank you for your reply regarding my concerns about Friends of the Lake District joining the South Copeland Geological Disposal Facility Partnership. To take your points in turn - Nuclear Waste Services (the Developer) and Perception Management. - I personally do not believe Friends of the Lake District/CPRE are deliberately supporting the development of a Geological Disposal Facility in South Copeland, Cumbria or Lincolnshire. However, it is clear from the Developer’s (Nuclear Waste Services) latest GDF report that the joining of the Partnership by FoLD is seen as a PR coup for them. This is illustrated in the 2023 NWS GDF Report. Out of the 12 South Copeland partners only FoLD is chosen to be named in the document "The Partnership has 12 members so far, including local authority representatives, Parish councillors, and local stakeholder groups, such as Friends of the Lake District.” Misunderstanding the Process? - You say that i "misunderstand the Community Partnership and its objectives.” I agree that the “process” is labyrinthine but the ultimate objective described by the Partnership is clear enough: "delivering a GDF designed to be a safe and permanent solution for the UK’s most radioactive waste”. Friends of the Lake District along with many others have previously argued and been vindicated at least 4 times in public inquiry and subsequent Council decisions that a GDF in Cumbria would be neither “safe or permanent.” I nodded in agreement at your presentation to the Allerdale and Copeland Green Party in in which you described the process thus: BACKGROUND - NIREX 1990s, MRWS 2010s and now “Working with Communities.” Previous two processes failed due to a) unsuitable geology; and b) Cumbria County Council’s lack of faith in the process Government set out how the siting process will work in a Framework that was published in 2018 The framework deliberately cuts out Cumbria County Council who refused to continue with the MRWS process in 2013 which caused it to fail Cumbria County Council will cease to exist in May 2023. The Government chose the new Unitary boundary to coincide with pro-nuclear councils. Initial Discussions - Anyone can put forward any area in England and Wales for consideration. In Cumbria an unelected individual that doesn’t live in either Copeland or Allerdale put forward both areas for Radioactive Waste Management’s consideration in 2020 Troubling Issues identified with the Working Group process Working groups were set up in Copeland and Allerdale after both areas were proposed as areas of search The working groups were very small and unrepresentative Allerdale and Copeland Borough Council both ratified the decision to proceed with taking the process forward to Community Partnership Each year that a Community Partnership operates, £1million is distributed within the CP area by RWM. Whilst site characterisation works are ongoing, this amount will be (up to) £2.5 million Even though the Community Partnerships are less than four months old, community groups vying for funding from RWM rather than actually critically looking at what a GDF in their area will actually mean. Site characterisation includes drilling boreholes up to 1km deep. Each borehole will need planning permission, which will be decided by the Planning Inspectorate. Other site characterisation work will include looking at marine facilities, roads, railways and electricity connections. There is currently no definition of what a “test of public support” actually comprises." You also pointed out that only the local authority (not the “community”) can withdraw (at any point up to the Test of Public Support). It seems perverse for FoLD to join the Partnership given the process by which it has been arrived at is described by FoLD as being so profoundly undemocratic and utterly manipulative. Transparent Information? You say that FoLD’s membership of the Partnership will ensure transparent information. The lack of transparency is evidenced by latest NWS GDF report in which FoLD features as key Partner. By Partnering with NWS FoLD are complicit in investigation techniques including the controversial seismic blasting off South and Mid-Copland. The Partnership Developer NWA describes this as "A highlight was the first marine geophysical survey, focused off the coast of South and Mid Copeland, in August 2022. The survey was undertaken by specialists Shearwater GeoServices and acquired data over a period of around three weeks utilising the SW Bly, a 92-metre vessel carrying specialist acoustic equipment operating 5km- 20km from the coastline. The survey delivered good quality raw data with an exemplary safety and environmental record.” There is no transparency here - no mention of the 55,000 signatures opposing the Partnership blasting the Irish Sea with sound every five seconds for three weeks with deaths of seals and harbour porpoises from day one of the blasting showing up on the adjacent beaches. If NWS and the Partnership was being genuinely transparent there would have been a public consultation on whether seismic blasting should take place in an area of multiple marine protections rather than using the exemption of “scientific research” to push through the development’s seismic blasting plan. Independent reports ? You indicate that Fold’s membership of the Partnership will "ensure that the information (when detailed information and reporting is eventually released) is checked, and where necessary questioned/challenged with the commissioning of independent studies and reports.” FoLD is one of the most influential and affluent charities in Cumbria and I am sure can "check" and "challenge" without being joined to a process that seeks to “neutralise” its Partners. Will “independent reports” commissioned by the Partnership be signed off by developer and funder Nuclear Waste Services if those reports genuinely challenge the siting process? I suspect that the “independent reports” will fall far short of any genuine challenge. Indeed the Partners are signed up to a legal agreement that heads off any genuine challenge. When any questions are directed at any of the Partnerships of South and Mid Copeland and Lincolnshire the reply comes not from ’The Partnership’ but from the Developer, Nuclear Waste Services. This is an abusive Partnership which controls the narrative with an iron fist and does not trust “The Partners” to answer questions directed to the three remaining Partnerships of South/Mid Copeland and Lincolnshire. Mark Kirkbride Key CoRWM Advisor to the Partnerships. Mark Kirkbride, the CEO of West Cumbria Mining has you state, no "direct involvement" with the Developer Nuclear Waste Services. Mark Kirkbride is as you say not directly drilling holes, seismically testing the Irish Sea or driving tunnel boring machines as his involvement is as key advisor at the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management whose 2019 appointment has just been extended to 2027. Nuclear Waste Services receive advice from CoRWM Kirkbride’s “invaluable" role in that Committee involves: "scrutiny and provision of advice to BEIS (Dept of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy) and RWM (Radioactive Waste Management now Nuclear Waste Services) on activities relating to the continued development of a GDF safety case * scrutiny and provision of advice to BEIS and RWM on GDF siting activities, including selection criteria, methods of investigation, and the timescale for carrying out site selection in the three rock types * advise on new technologies that could be applicable to the development of a GDF including those in the mining and construction sectors and their potential impacts on a GDF programme" Mark Kirkbride has recently provided costings to Government for the Delivery of a GDF including advice on enormous Tunnel Boring Machines from the same company (Herrenknecht) which would supply his coal mine. This is not "direct involvement" as you say (that could be arguable) but it is crony capitalism. Mark Kirkbride’s has clearly advised on the investigation technique of seismic blasting. We suspect it was his advice to carry out the testing under the Marine Management Organisation’s “scientific research exemption” ( despite this being carried out to facilitate an enormous GDF development ) thus evading the need for a full consultation in a marine protected area. The enormous range of the Irish Sea in which the seismic testing took place overlapped Kirkbride’s coal mine area. FoLD is now inadvertently taking advice from the coal boss - this advice may be hidden within the auspices of CoRWM but the fact remains Mark Kirkbride is key adviser at CoRWM who in turn advise the Developer, NWS. To repeat the key point which remains unaddressed by your reply : I am concerned that rather than being a fully independent voice challenging the process and its aims FoLD are now co-opted into looking over their shoulder at the terms of the Partnership given the wording of the binding declaration not to challenge the Siting Process signed by all Partnership members. "Conflicts of interest can lead to decisions and actions that are not in the best interests of the Community Partnership or the Siting Process or are vulnerable to challenge. " To repeat- It is worrying that the most influential landscape charity in Cumbria is now effectively and as far as the membership of FoLD are concerned, unwittingly, Partners in the process of the delivery of a GDF. Nuclear Waste Services themselves have now replied to the question of the declaration signed by the Partners including Friends of the Lake District not to challenge the siting process - the question has not been addressed in full by NWS but they do revealingly say that: "we ask all members to take a neutral stance" Friends of the Lake District’s presence on the Partnership is a boon to Nuclear Waste Services who know that FoLD’s iconic name lends legitimacy and kudos to an entirely undemocratic process for the most dangerous and discredited nuclear waste development ever. The presence of FoLD on the South Copeland GDF Partnership serves to encourage other potentially opposing voices to be neutralised by joining the Partnerships. We again urge Friends of the Lake District to lead the way in withdrawing from the Partnership and instead to independently, forcefully and we pray successfully challenge the ‘process’ leading to the toxic delivery of a gargantuan Geological Disposal Facility for heat generating nuclear wastes on and under the Lake District coast. Yours sincerely Marianne Lakes Against Nuclear Dump https://www.lakesagainstnucleardump.com/ Nuclear Waste Services GDF report NWS_GDF_Report2023_O15_SWAP.pdf Report to Allerdale and Copeland Green Party by Kate Willshaw Friends of the Lake District https://allerdalecopeland.greenparty.org.uk/2022/01/30/disposal-of-nuclear-waste-in-cumbria/ Seismic Blasting Banned https://www.greenmatters.com/p/atlantic-ocean-seismic-blasting Conservationists Have Successfully Lobbied Against Seismic Blasting in t... Despite the fossil fuel industry's wishes, seismic blasting has officially been banned in the Atlantic Ocean, th... Email from Nuclear Waste Services of Oct 11, 2023 note the question was directed to South Copeland GDF Partnership but "all enquiries addressed to the South Copeland GDF Community Partnership are managed by the Nuclear Waste Services Contact Management Team." OFFICIAL Dear Marianne Thank you for contacting us on the 5th October 2023 regarding conflicts of interest. Just so you are aware, all enquiries addressed to the South Copeland GDF Community Partnership are managed by the Nuclear Waste Services Contact Management Team. Thank you for your question. The siting process belongs to Nuclear Waste Services as the Geological Disposal Facility Developer. Also, we ask all members to take a neutral stance, as they are there to represent all members of the community. Please get in touch if we can help further. For more information about our work in South Copeland please visit our website at https://southcopeland.workinginpartnership.org.uk . If you have any questions or if you would like further information, please get in touch via the website, by email to GDFinfo-SouthCopeland@nuclearwasteservices.uk or by calling us on 0300 369 0000 (lines are open Monday – Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm excluding bank holidays). Tracy Nuclear Waste Services Contact Management Team If you have a general enquiry or wish to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations, please contact us by visiting www.nuclearwasteservices.uk ----- Forwarded message ----- From: Policy Officer, Friends of the Lake District Sent: Tuesday, 10 October 2023, 15:55:27 BST Subject: Friends of the Lake District's involvement in the South Copeland Community Partnership Dear Marianne I am concerned that you appear to believe that I or the Friends of the Lake District are supporting the development of a GDF in South Copeland. To make it clear, we will not support any development which has a negative impact on the landscape or environment of Cumbria and the Lake District. In addition, it would also appear that you misunderstand the Community Partnership and its objectives. As this is the case, I have set out below what the purpose of the Community Partnership is and why we are involved. The GDF Community Partnership is part of a major Government public engagement exercise concerning, as you say, a potential major development near the Lake District. Accordingly, we needed to carefully consider the best way for Friends of the Lake District to be a part of the conversation. We took the view that opposing this engagement exercise from the outside was not the best approach. In this instance, not least given that the Partnership has considerable potential to impact much of the engagement with members of the public locally, we felt that a better way to further the aims of Friends of the Lake District in protecting the high-quality landscape and habitats of the area would be by participating fully and openly in the Partnership. First and foremost, membership of the Community Partnership offers Friends of the Lake District and other local groups the opportunity to understand proposals as they emerge and to ensure that the developer (Nuclear Waste Services) meet their statutory commitment to open and transparent information. Second, membership affords Friends of the Lake District and other community groups the opportunity to influence where and how all of our communities are engaged in this dialogue and to ensure that the information (when detailed information and reporting is eventually released) is checked, and where necessary questioned/challenged with the commissioning of independent studies and reports. All of this will be critical to ensuring that when the test of public support is undertaken (and this is a statutory requirement) the public approach the question with as much accurate information about the development and its impacts on the community and the environment of South Copeland as we can gather. As an example, I have been involved with other members of the Partnership (not including NWS) in drafting a scoping document to look at the potential impacts of the development on local communities. This is being written by members of the partnership and not employees of the developer and as such it will have greater credibility with our communities, who asked for this piece of work to be handled this way in public feedback. You make reference to Mark Kirkbride of West Cumbria Mining and his role in advising CoRWM but in reality this has nothing to do with the South Copeland Community Partnership, neither does he appear to have a direct involvement with the developer. The reality is that Friends of the Lake District have joined the partnership, like representatives of Whicham, Drigg, Millom and Millom Without Parish Councils, Sustainable Duddon and others, to ensure that the community voice is heard and respected in the siting process and any future stage of the process. This is an absolutely valid objective for Friends of the Lake District and careful consideration was given to membership by the Board of Trustees for Friends of the Lake District when we looked at joining. I am sure my colleagues at CPRE would agree that our communities come first and any opportunity to ensure they are properly consulted on developments like this is critically important. Whilst this may not be the response you were hoping for, I have passed your concerns on to our Chief Executive who approved this reply. Hopefully this will have given you greater insight into our reasons for joining and remaining involved in this process. Regards, Policy Officer www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk From: Marianne B Sent: Friday, October 6, 2023 11:45 AMTo: info@cpre.org.uk; info <info@fld.org.uk>Subject: Fw: FAO Policy Officer& FoLD Dear CPRE Thank you for the work you do to protect Rural England - I support many of your campaigns. We are writing with huge concern that your Lake District regional group has joined in Partnership with the plan to deliver a deep and very hot sub-sea nuclear waste dump (Geological Disposal Facility GDF). This Partnering is made all the more astounding given that the nuclear dump plan is being advised by the CEO of West Cumbria Mining in his key role at the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. The coal mine is as you know in the area adjacent to the nuclear dump plans and Mark Kirkbride is key advisor at the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) on Costings, Preferred Suppliers for Machinery (the same suppliers as his coal mine!), Investigation Techniques, Siting Process and more. CoRWM advise Nuclear Waste Services who fund and steer the GDF Partnerships A letter has been sent to Policy Officer of Friends of the Lake District urging the withdrawal of Cumbria's most influential landscape charity from the South Copeland GDF Partnership and urging strong opposition to the plans. All best wishes Marianne Lakes Against Nuclear Dump ----- Forwarded message ----- From: Marianne B To: info@fld.org.uk <info@fld.org.uk> Sent: Friday, 6 October 2023, 10:19:23 BST Subject: FAO Policy Officer and FoLD Dear ------ Hope all is ok with you? I left a message with the office but have had no word back on concerns that FoLD has joined the South Copeland Geological Disposal Facility Partnership. I am concerned that rather than being an independent voice FoLD are now co-opted into looking over their shoulder at the terms of the Partnership given the wording of the binding declaration not to challenge the Siting Process signed by all Partnership members. "Conflicts of interest can lead to decisions and actions that are not in the best interests of the Community Partnership or the Siting Process or are vulnerable to challenge. " It is worrying that the most influential landscape charity in Cumbria is now a Partner in delivery of a GDF. Mark Kirkbride West Cumbria Mining's CEO is advising Nuclear Waste Services on the Siting Process, Construction, Investigation Techniques and Costings- his term at the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management has been extended to 2027 as I am sure you know. It seems perverse for FoLD who opposed Mark Kirkbride's coal mine to now be taking advice provided by him to CoRWM and then onto the Partnerships of South/Mid Copeland (now Cumberland) and Lincolnshire. On a personal note I support many of Friends of the Lake Districts campaigns and stances with a couple of exceptions including the proposed clearfelling of the Rusland Beeches back in 1996/7. Ironically that was the same year as the NIREX inquiry into the planned burial of Intermediate Level Nuclear Wastes at Longlands Farm near Sellafield. I supported FoLD's opposition to NIREX's plans for a "Rock Laboratory" or Trojan Horse for a Nuclear Dump as it was more colloquially known and was delighted that the plan was scrapped. The nuclear industry has since then employed mission creep and psychologists to get us to the point we are now where FoLD are "welcomed into the South Copeland GDF Partnership" to deliver a sub-sea mine for the dumping of High Level Nuclear wastes. I hope FoLD will withdraw from the Partnership process asap and instead provide a strong independent voice of opposition to the GDF plans all best Marianne Lakes Against Nuclear Dump https://www.lakesagainstnucleardump.com/ Lakes Against Nuclear Dump - no deep nuclear dump here, there or anywhere!

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