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Nuclear waste could be buried underneath national parks

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Some of the UK’s most beautiful national parks could become burial sites for nuclear waste.

The government has been searching for an area to site an underground radioactive waste facility and refused to rule out areas of outstanding natural beauty.

That approach has been backed by the the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee.

In its report it said that current panning regulations would protect sites from “intrusive developments and environmental damage” and that it was “right for safety matters to prevail over environmental concerns in this case”.

The committee’s conclusions have note been met with universal approval.

Emma Marrington of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “We hope the Government will look again at how inappropriate geological disposal facilities would be in designated landscapes.

“We know that where such major development takes place we destroy beautiful landscapes and ruin our opportunity to pass on a beautiful piece of countryside to the next generation.”

The Sellafield nuclear reprocessing facility in Cumbria
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The Sellafield nuclear reprocessing facility is in the process of being decommissioned

In the past the Lake District national park is one that has been considered for nuclear waste disposal because of its geology and its proximity to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing facility, which is currently being decommissioned.

The government’s views on “geological disposal infrastructure (GDI)” were set out in a draft national policy statement (NPS) in January.

A GDI would involve specially engineered vaults and tunnels located deep underground which would be able to contain waste which is more radioactive than surface facilities could store.

The committee said that although the draft policy was “fit for purpose”, any information about proposals should be accessible to members of the public and that any developer should rely on local employment and sourcing opportunities in areas where a GDI would be located.

It also said that government should clarify the “level of uncertainty” about the sort of waste that would be stored in the underground vaults.

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