Millom and Haverigg ‘being conned’ by nuclear industry over waste dump, claims former Councillor




Nuclear Free Local Authorities media release, Monday 18 July 2022

Millom and Haverigg ‘being conned’ by nuclear industry over waste dump, claims former Councillor

A Millom resident, who recently resigned from her local council in disgust at the shenanigans she witnessed, has claimed that the residents and elected members of Millom and Haverigg and surrounding villages are ‘being conned’ with lies and false promises from Nuclear Waste Services and some members of the local South Copeland GDF Community Partnership.

Only last month, Jan Bridget founded the Millom and District against the Nuclear Dump campaign group as a voice for local people who are opposed to the proposal to bring a nuclear waste dump to the South-West of Cumbria. The waste dump or Geological Disposal Facility (as Nuclear Waste Services prefers to call it) will be final resting place for the high-level radioactive waste generated by Britain’s civil and military programmes over the last seventy years.

One catalyst for local opposition has been NWS’s plan to ‘sound blast’ the Irish Sea to determine if the geology of the seabed could host the waste dump. Almost 50,000 individuals have signed an online petition in opposition to the plan, whilst 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 have been deaf to these objections.

Over the last month, the Millom and District group has become an effective local force opposing plans for a dump. Nearly 400 local people have so far joined, and members have been active with a protest by 19 local people outside an NWS-organised community consultation event in Haverigg, and a door-to-door delivery campaign completed with activists posting almost 5,000 leaflets through letter boxes.

As a member of Millom Town Council, Jan spoke up for the objectors, but, from the hostile response she received from several fellow Councillors involved with the Community Partnership, it soon became clear that her lone voice was unwelcome in the council chamber, and the atmosphere turned so toxic that Jan felt unable to stay.

Commenting, Jan Bridget said: “Clearly in raising a few home truths about the nuclear dump, I had opened a can of worms. Some Councillors were determined to be involved in the Community Partnership to access the funding at all costs and they saw me as a threat to this. At the June meeting of full Council, I was ferociously verbally attacked, and then to cap it all a promise made to send a letter I had drafted questioning the seismic surveys was not honoured once the Town Mayor was on holiday and could not intercede. That was the last straw. I resigned”.

Jan has not been disheartened and now has more time to take the campaign to the next level, with a new website in development, a lobby planned of an extra-ordinary meeting of Millom Town Council called for 21 July to discuss the council’s position on the dump, and a future public meeting on the cards.

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities also oppose the GDF, particularly one beneath the sea, and they also have real concerns over the impact of seismic testing; consequently, they have joined local campaign groups, like Radiation Free Lakeland and Millom and District, in writing to the Marine Management Organisation in opposition to the plan, and they continue to provide advice and support to Cumbrian opponents of the plan.

Councillor David Blackburn, who is Chair of the NFLA Steering Committee, said of Jan’s revelations:

“Clearly here we see in Jan’s statement a town council riven on the GDF issue. Parish and town councils are those closest to the ground when it comes to interpreting public opinion, yet, whilst in Millom and Haverigg there are a great many local people opposed to the dump, the town council seems to have blithely gone along with membership of the Community Partnership without taking proper soundings from local people whether they should even participate.

“Jan, in questioning the Council’s actions and in calling for greater accountability, appears shamefully to have been subjected to bullying and vilification whilst in office. If we saw such conduct in my own local authority the matter would be immediately referred to the Standards Board for investigation and disciplinary action would be applied if Councillors were found to have erred from good conduct.

“Millom Town Council looks like a situation requiring an intervention by Cumbria’s equivalent of Jackie Weaver…”

For more information, please contact NFLA Secretary Richard Outram by email on richard.outram@manchester.gov.uk or mobile 07583097793

Ends://…

Notes to Editors:

This media release can also be found on the NFLA website at

https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/news/millom-and-haverigg-being-conned-by-nuclear-industry-over-waste-dump-claims-former-councillor/

Former Councillor Jan Bridget’s statement reads:

MILLOM AND HAVERIGG CONNED

  1. A Councillor from Bootle (not Millom), and an ex-employee of Sellafield, put forward Millom as a potential site for the GDF; Copeland Borough Council (not the full Council) also proposed Millom. Millom, Millom Without and Whicham DID NOT put themselves forward, neither were their constituents asked if they wanted their local Council to participate.

2. Millom, Millom Without and Whicham Councils joined the South Copeland GDF Partnership in good faith because they were told this was how they could access the £1 million funding being made available to them whilst the area was being considered: this would go up to £2.5 million should the investigations get to the drilling bore holes stage. So a significant incentive to remain in the Partnership. However, in reality none of these Councils need to be members of the Partnership to apply for this money, and they were therefore misled.

3. NWS are using the membership of Millom Council in the Partnership to imply we (Millom and area) are a ‘willing community’.

4. NWS are using the Partnership to say they are in communication with the ‘willing community’ (ie the Partnership). They have held several ‘events’ promoting the GDF to constituents. It is believed about 200 people attended the NWS-led events in Millom and Haverigg and many of these were opposed to the GDF and told them so. Despite NWS claiming to want an honest debate about the process, the NWS refused to allow Radioactive Free Lakeland to have leaflets at these events to give an alternative view. But NWS did seek to influence the minds of children present, the persons most likely to be of an age as young adults to vote on these proposals, by providing a colouring book and crayons which conveyed images that the GDF was benign and friendly. This Millom Cllr McGrath said was available “in case the children of anyone visiting the event got bored.” A group of about twenty people, all locals apart from one, held a demonstration outside one of the events in Haverigg.

5. The siting of a GDF off Haverigg (and one assumes investigations into whether land under the sea off Millom/Haverigg) can only go ahead, according to government, if there is a willing community.

6, The information available by the government gives the impression Millom (Millom Without and Whicham) could withdraw from the process at any time. This is not true. In response to a question about this Councillor Bridget was told by NWS that only they and Copeland Borough as the NWS-apponted ‘relevant principal local authorities’ could withdraw. If Millom Council decided to withdraw the process would continue irrespective of whether they were members of the Partnership or not.

7. On 1st August seismic surveys are about to begin off the coast of Haverigg. These surveys involve blasting sound into the ocean every ten seconds and will last for 17 days. The constituents have NOT been asked if they support this, nor indeed, as far as we know, have members of the Partnership been asked.

8. There is more and more research becoming available which suggests these seismic surveys (despite having been used for years by the gas and oil companies) are dangerous to many marine species.

9. There are tough procedures to go through to acquire licences to be able to carry out seismic surveys, especially as there are endangered species in our area.

10. NWS have circumvented these procedures by claiming an exemption on the spurious grounds of ‘scientific research’, when in the reality the search for, and the creation of, a nuclear waste dump is a commercial activity for which it has been estimated the parent company of NWS, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, will be paid between £20 – 53 billion in taxpayers’ money.

11. The Marine Management Organisation has failed to challenge the validity of this exemption, despite appeals from the general public (including an online petition that has amassed almost 50,000 signatures) and environmental and marine animal welfare organisations and has compounded this neglect by issuing NWS with a European Protected Species Licence to enable them to proceed. None of the NWS proposals for seismic testing has been subjected to any public consultation or meaningful peer scrutiny.

12. What limited consultation there has been with constituents suggests the majority are opposed to a GDF being sited near Millom. e.g Millom Without held two on-line consultations with 25 constituents, all were opposed to a GDF being sited here. A few years ago Whicham council surveyed their constituents and one of the questions was what are the three things you do not want (with another question, what three things do you want). Amongst the top three things constituents did not want was any nuclear facility. Constituents in Millom and Haverigg have not been asked. However, a poll on a community Facebook group with a membership of around 2,000 were asked what they thought about a GDF, 151 people responded, two thirds were against it, one third in favour and a few (11?) wanted more information. When a local constituent, Jan Bridget who was a new town councillor, learnt about the proposed GDF she tried to alert the Council to what was happening, but they did not want to know, all they concerned themselves with was acquiring much needed funding for their area. Councillor Bridget believed it was incumbent upon her, as a Town Councillor, to provide alternative information to that being propagated by the Partnership (NWS) and so set up a private Facebook group, Millom and District Against the GDF. Within two days there were nearly 300 members, the majority from Millom and the local villages. After a month this has grown to nearly 400 members. Councillor Bridget believed that being a member of the Partnership gave the impression Millom Council were in support of a GDF in the area. The mayor, Cllr Kelly wrote a statement to say they took a neutral stance but Cllr McGrath, chair of the South Copeland GDF Community Partnership, Millom Town Councillor and Copeland Borough Councillor, threatened to resign should it be sent out; it was agreed to ask the Partnership what to do (although it is thought nothing has happened apart from the statement not being made). The Council maintains they have a neutral stance yet opposed Councillor Bridget from communicating her opposition to the GDF as a Councillor and refused to discuss the issue.

13. Millom Council received two letters from constituents opposing the GDF and Councillor Bridget read out a statement in opposition to the GDF at the June Council meeting. Immediately after reading her statement, she was verbally attacked by Councillor Billing (the Millom Council representative on the Partnership) who shouted at her, in an uncontrolled manner, accusing her of calling him a liar. Councillor Bridget did not accuse him of being a liar, she merely pointed out that he and Councillor McGrath, had informed the Council that NWS were going through all the correct channels and acquiring the relevant licences to conduct the surveys which, Councillor Bridget had discovered, was not the case. The effect of the attack was to stifle a proper debate. The Council agreed to seek clarification from the NWS about the surveys. Councillor Bridget and the Mayor, Councillor Kelly agreed the wording of the letter and Councillor Kelly gave instructions for the letter to be sent the day before he went on leave (for a month). He confirmed to Councillor Bridget that he had sent the email the day before he went on holiday. Councillor Bridget contacted the Clerk to ascertain if the letter had been sent but was informed it had not been sent and was in the possession of the Deputy Mayor. At this point Councillor Bridget resigned from the Council.

14. Millom were due to meet on 3rd August, 7 pm at office 6 Newton Street. However, they are holding an Extra-ordinary meeting on 21st July at 10 am to discuss a proposed statement about the GDF for their website.

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