Second GDF Community Partnership forms in Copeland

Second GDF Community Partnership forms in Copeland

A second Community Partnership has formed in Copeland to take forward discussions around geological disposal.

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The South Copeland GDF Community Partnership has now launched, with its own Search Area, which includes the electoral wards of Millom and Black Combe & Scafell.

Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) is considering the potential of the deep geology beyond the coast for siting the underground elements of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). The Copeland Working Group recommended this area for RWM’s initial focus. 

This means a surface facility on the coast could provide access to a disposal area deep in rock beyond the coast. The area within the Lake District National Park (LDNP) and proposed extension will continue to be excluded from consideration, as will any existing or future coal mines.

A GDF is an underground facility designed to safely and securely dispose of higher activity radioactive waste. Community Partnerships are longer-term groups made up of a larger number of people to consider the possibilities of hosting a GDF within the identified Search Areas in more detail. 

Progressing to the formation of a Community Partnership in South Copeland, now unlocks access to £1m a year investment funding for the community, for local projects, rising to £2.5m per year if deep borehole investigations to assess geology take place.

The news follows the launch of the Mid Copeland GDF Community Partnership last month. Now that two Community Partnerships have formed, the Copeland Working Group comes to an end as it has fulfilled its remit to begin conversations about GDF; identify Search Areas and identify initial members for Community Partnerships.

To begin with, Mark Cullinan (former Chair of the Working Group) will Chair South Copeland GDF Community Partnership until more members join and another Chair is appointed.

One of the first main tasks for the Community Partnership is to recruit more community members. So far, local councillors are joining the Partnership alongside RWM, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC).

Mark Cullinan said: “We’re pleased to launch this second Community Partnership in South Copeland to take forward discussions and engagement with the community around geological disposal. 

“This Community Partnership is a starting point to consider possibilities in more detail and a chance to ensure your voice is heard. A priority for us is to recruit more community members, reflective of the local area, and also to provide information on how people can apply for the Community Investment Funding (CIF).”

CIF is now available for projects that would benefit communities in the South Copeland Search Area. It can be used to support initiatives that provide economic development opportunities, enhance the natural and built environment, or improve community wellbeing.

Construction of a GDF requires both a suitable site and willing host community. If a suitable site is found in Copeland – which could take 10-15 years – a Test of Public Support, which would give people a direct say, would be held with those within the host community. Without public support the project would not go ahead.

Some of the early work for RWM, which was supported by the Working Group, will include conducting geophysical surveys to gather evidence about the nature of the deep rocks in an area off the coast of Copeland in summer 2022.

The community that takes the opportunity to host a GDF will receive significant additional investment and long-term benefits for future generations, including jobs and skills. 

Please see the website for further information including details of how to apply for Community Investment Funding: https://southcopeland.workinginpartnership.org.uk/

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