|Anti-nuke dump campaigners at Barrow, September 2011|
The plan to house the waste site in Cumbria was rejected by the County Council last month and so Baroness Verma has confirmed the county is no longer an option and announced work must begin on identifying an alternative UK site.
For many years the campaign against the shipment, processing and storage of highly irradiated nuclear waste was conducted by CORE (Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment) formerly BAG (Barrow Action Group).
(I never discovered why my alternative suggestion for BAG - Barrow Anti-Nuclear Group - BANG! - was rejected in those earlier days. Too flippant, maybe? Anyway, once it was agreed to expand the action beyond Barrow and include the whole of Cumbria whoever thought up CORE did a great job. Muddz) There isn't space here to describe the work and campaigns of CORE but Martin Forwood and Jean McSorely deserve special mention as they were the leading lights of the organisation. Jean achieved international recognition for her work and lived for some time in Japan. Martin stayed in Cumbria and remains spokesperson for CORE to this day although the group seems to have become much depleted (no pun intended! Muddz) in recent years. Fortunately, Radiation Free Lakeland together with supporters of Friends of the Earth stepped in to take the reins. The photograph shows wildlife artist and RFL member, Marianne Birkby,(centre), with two fellow campaigners outside Barrow Town Hall having delivered their protest before a meeting of Cumbria County Council.
I remember attending a Cumbria Joint TUC meeting at Whitehaven during the 1980s when an expansion of the irradiated waste facility at the Sellafield site had been proposed and was met with resistence by trade unionists. Ray Buckton, a senior national officer - probably General Secretary - of the ASLEF union became most agitated when, despite his cajoling and pleading for the proposal to be adopted, members still rejected the idea. Then, as it is commonly said, he 'lost his rag'. He ranted and he raged. It was, he claimed, a brilliant idea because trade unionist would be involved so safe handling and procedures would be guaranteed. Sadly, some members changed their minds but I suspect this had more to do with preventing Buckton from having a seizure than actually agreeing with him.
So what's the situation at the moment? Moves to have the council decision overturned are now afoot. Councillor Anne Burns (pro-dump) "The waste is already at the site, it's deteriorating unless we do something about it."; Councillor Oliver Pearson (pro-dump) "If we shut the door on this, they (the government) may shut the door on us." (That's blackmail, Oliver! Muddz) Steve Nicholson, Sellafield Workers Campaign, "Fifty thousand people in my community depend on the nuclear industry."; Councillor Tim Knowles (pro-dump) "It is inherently uncertain whether a suitable site can be found. Is it worth more to reduce doing that uncertainty?" (A nice example of mangled English! Muddz) T. Farrer, in letter to Westmorland Gazette "Why was it that only ten councillors - the Cabinet - made the decision? Surely a matter of this magnitude should have been debated in full council....Once again it seems that the 'green' lobby with its anti-nuclear stance is blocking progress." Kevin Coyne, Unite union national officer "This is an extremely short-sighted decision by the Cumbria councils that voted no." (Shades of Ray Buckton? Muddz.)
The bureaucratic structure of local government administration involving several borough councils here in Cumbria can create complications. For example, Copeland Borough Council has voted to remain within the process (of searching for a suitable Cumbrian site for nuclear waste storage) and Copeland's MP, Jamie Reed, could now pressure the government to have the repository built within his district.
Then, of course, we have the 'Political Thespians' dramatically hamming up all too expected performances in enacting scenes of subterfuge and 'outrageous fortune' (Apologies to Bill the Bard. Muddz) County Councillor conspirators claim Council Leader, Eddie Martin, had threatened to quit unless fellow Tories backed him in the vote (against the repository) (Friends, councillors, Cumbrians! I come to bury the repository, not to praise it! Muddz) and this is denied by Eddie Martin who then announced he would not, in any case, be standing for re-election in May (Touche! Muddz) Now, get this for a great closure by Eddie Martin: "There was no one single reason for rejecting. It was a cumulative effect. We were left with no other choice. This particular issue is not Copeland specific. It affects the whole of Cumbria and my responsibility is to the people of Cumbria, not Westminster. I'm not beholden to Westminster or David Cameron. The people of Cumbria elected me, not David Cameron."
(Bravo, Councillor Eddie Martin! Although you are a Tory, you get a standing ovation from this Communist. As for the Labour specimens who would consign Cumbria to the nuclear dustbin in perpetuity it's a case of 'hold the nose and yank on the lavatory chain' Muddz)