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Dolphins near Walney Lighthouse

You can help stop seismic blasting - its a long shot as Nuclear Waste Services seismic blasting boat is already in the Irish Sea in preparation to start blasting on August 1st - but we have to try.

This summer the marine life of the Irish Sea off the West Coast of Cumbria will be blasted with airguns every five seconds 24/7 for 20 days, unless we can stop it.

A last minute legal challenge has been threatened by campaigners against the plan by Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) who want to investigate the geology beneath the Irish Sea bed for a deep and very hot nuclear waste dump (Geological Disposal Facility). The challenge has been started by Radiation Free Lakeland with the help and advice of environmental lawyers Leigh Day.

The grounds are that authorisation of the seismic blasting by the regulators, the Marine Management Organisation is unlawful. The regulatory body has authorised disturbance to common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise, minke whale and sea turtles which are all European Protected Species requiring a European Protected Species Licence under UK law. The area also contains basking shark whose plankton food source is likely to suffer significant impacts. Shearwater Geoservices the company hired by Nuclear Waste Services was accused earlier this year of causing whale strandings in Greece. The survey due to begin on the 1st August involves airguns fixed to a ship producing high intensity sounds using compressed air bubbles. The reflected sounds are recorded by hydrophones trailed on streamers behind the ship The ship would be collecting data 24/7 for up to 20 days, with sounds being fired at 5 second intervals. Almost 50,000 individuals have signed an online petition in opposition to the plan, whilst many leading environmental and conservation groups have registered their concerns that the health of marine wildlife will be seriously compromised. To date, the local and national authorities and most disturbingly the Marine Management Organisation have turned a blind eye to vigorous and legitimate objections to the plan and NWS’ underhand application for “exemption” from vital regulatory consultations and Environmental Impact Assessments. An independent report by Marine Pollution expert Tim Deere-Jones remarks that NWS’ application for an exemption from licencing shows “a marked lack of transparency.” Although Leigh Day have generously agreed to do this at much reduced rates, we still need to raise a minimum of £39,000 in order to challenge this outrageous plan. All monies raised will go directly to the legal case in order to cover our legal team’s costs, court fees and adverse costs if the case is unsuccessful. Every donation will go directly towards challenging the plan.

With MANY THANKS Marianne and Radiation Free Lakeland's Lakes Against Nuclear Dump campaign

More info: The Legal Challenge advised by Leigh Day puts forward several grounds including:

  • The Survey does not fall within the scope of the exemption in art.17 of MMO’s Exempted Activities Order as it involves the use of an explosive article, namely an airgun, which is a licensable activity under item 10 of s.66(1) of the MCAA 2009.

  • The Survey does not benefit from the exemption in art.17 as it is excluded by the operation of art.17(5)(c) and (6)(a), which prevent an exemption applying where a deposit is likely to have a significant effect on a European Site. Any mitigation measures (such as marine mammal observers) intended to avoid or reduce the harmful effects of the plan or project must be disregarded.

  • The grant of the European Protected Species Licence by MMO is unlawful as it has been granted for the purpose of science and education pursuant to s.16 of the WCA 1981 and reg.55 of the Habitats Regulations, but this is not the purpose of the Survey, which seeks to assess the suitability of the deep geology of the area for future infrastructure development. It therefore has an industrial or commercial purpose rather than a science, education or research purpose.

The Pre-Action letter sent to the Marine Management Organisation proposes that the MMO: “notify NWS with alacrity that the proposed Survey does not benefit from an exemption under the Exempted Activities Order, requires a licence for disturbance to basking shark and that enforcement action will be taken if NWS proceeds with the Survey without applying for a marine licence and basking shark licence. If the MMO fails to take these actions, the Proposed Claimant will consider issuing a judicial review claim against the MMO and seeking pre-emptive interim relief to prevent the Survey from taking place. “

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