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Marine Management Organisation Put “On Notice” Should they Rubber Stamp Seismic Blasting Plan

The Marine Management Organisation are, any day, due to give their decision on Nuclear Waste Services seismic blasting plan for the Irish Sea.

A report condemning Nuclear Waste Services plan for seismic blasting has been funded entirely by contributions from the public and written by renowned marine expert Tim Deere-Jones. The threat to the supposedly “protected” Marine Conservation Zones including Walney where dolphins are often seen has been “scoped out” of the Nuclear Waste Services application for a Marine and European Protected Species licence “exemption” application. Nuclear Waste Services have sought to circumvent the normal processes of regulatory control in order to steam ahead with their plans.

A petition of now nearly 45,000 signatures has been handed to the Marine Management Organisation asking that no approval takes place for the plan which is seeking to ‘test the rocks’ beneath the Irish Sea in order to facilitate a deep nuclear dump for heat generating nuclear wastes. The petition is being kept open for people to sign and share in order to demonstrate the overwhelming opposition to the seismic blasting plan.

On Radiation Free Lakeland’s behalf top environmental lawyers Leigh Day have written to the Marine Management Organisation on 29th June saying:

“Dear Marine Management Organisation,

Your Ref: EXE/2022/00048

Our Ref: RWS/00168375/4 Date: 29 June 2022

Re: Copeland marine geophysical survey (EXE/2022/00048)


  1. We write on behalf of our client, Radiation Free Lakeland (“RFL”), in relation to the Copeland marine geophysical survey (EXE/2022/00048) (the “Project”). The purpose of this letter is to put the Marine Management Organisation’s (“MMO”) on notice that RFL is concerned that the MMO’s decision-making process in relation to applications made by the Nuclear Waste Services (“NWS”) for both a Marine Licence Exemption (the “Exemption”) and a European Protected Sites Licence (the “EPSL”) in respect of the Project may be unlawful.

  2. You will be aware that RFL has been corresponding with the MMO extensively concerning the Project, including submitting an objection dated 8 June 2022. However, there are certain key documents and information not yet in the public domain, without sight of which we are unable to properly advise our client.

Request 3. Consequently, please provide the following:

  1. The Project’s expected: (i) start date; and (ii) duration (we note that the NWS’s application for the Exemption gave indicative start and end dates only);

  2. A copy of the MMO’s final decision in respect of the Exemption (we note that the only published decision on the MMO’s registry is marked as an “initial decision” dated 2 March 2022), plus all documents taken into account by the MMO in reaching that final decision;

c. A copy of, and any documents taken into account by the MMO in either granting or refusing, the EPSL. If the EPSL has not yet been granted or refused, please confirm: (i) when the MMO anticipates either granting or refusing the EPSL; and (ii) that you will notify us on the same day that the EPSL is granted or refused and provide us with the above information/documentation; and

d. Confirmation that the MMO will not permit the Project to start until at least 14 days after our client has received the above requested information and documentation.

4. As we are sure you are aware, the Aarhus Convention protects RFL’s right to be involved in the decision-making process relating to the Project, which includes the right to access information and documents as part of that process prior to any final approval decisions being made by the MMO. Moreover, the MMO is under a duty of candour to provide the above requested information and documentation, given it is now on notice of a potential claim for judicial review.

Next steps

5. Given the urgent nature of the contents of this letter, please provide your response by no later than 10am next Monday i.e. on 4 July 2022 and send it to both Rowan Smith and Julia Eriksen of this firm, who are dealing with this matter, using the email addressed at the top of the letterhead. “

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