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UK's first nuclear waste site could be at Romney Marsh

By Sean Axtell

Romney Marsh could become the country’s first nuclear waste site.

Folkestone & Hythe District Council (FHDC) has asked the Government for more information on its Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).

The proposal, to build a radioactive waste site the size of 22 Wembley Stadiums up to 1,000m underground in the UK, is currently out to consultation with councils.

Romney Marsh could be the site for a nuclear waste site
Romney Marsh could be the site for a nuclear waste site

Stored in concrete or metal containers for 120 years, the site would be sealed off and left to become safe over thousands of years.

And district Cllr David Godfrey, cabinet member for special projects “would feel comfortable” with it on the marsh.

He has asked the Government for more details and how communities could engage with the project.

“I find it dismissive how people who live with nuclear power on their doorsteps are so opposed to having what appears to be an intrinsically safe method of storage.

“Personally I’m quite comfortable with it.

“We need some more information on this, it doesn’t mean we are going for it, it’s part of a long process,” he said.

Currently the waste is stored above ground in various locations and must be dealt with by the UK in the coming years.

David Godfrey
David Godfrey

The Government decided in 2006 that it would all be brought together and held in a secure underground bunker.

It is scouring the UK for a suitable location for the new £12 billion site.

The Government said £1 million a year could be offered to a community willing to host the bunker, rising to £2.5 million as the scheme progresses.

This isn’t the first time nuclear waste has been up for debate on the marsh, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) asked councils to come forward as potential sites four years ago, but after some deliberation Shepway council scrapped the plans.

Then, councillors voted 21 to 13 against formally expressing interest in the project.

The issue had split residents, with 63% of people rejecting it in a survey.

The nuclear waste site would be the first in the UK
The nuclear waste site would be the first in the UK

Speaking about the latest consultation Cllr David Godfrey continued: “This is a very long-term project for the Government, with the facility expected to open in 20 years or so and operating for about 150 years before being permanently sealed off.

“No site has been identified and the Government has not yet asked for possible sites to be identified.

"It is clearly a sensitive issue and one that residents will rightly want to be included in discussions about.”

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