Council to withdraw from talks over burying nuclear waste in Yorkshire after near unanimous vote

East Riding councillors have voted against burying highly toxic radioactive waste in Yorkshire.

Councillor Sean McMaster put forward a motion calling for East Riding Council to withdraw with “immediate effect” from talks over siting an underground nuclear waste facility in South Holderness.

Coun McMaster said the plans had been met with “immense scepticism”.

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He said: “This method of disposal is a new one. No fully functional facilities are yet operational and can be looked at to guarantee safety.”

Artist's impression of a geological disposal facilityArtist's impression of a geological disposal facility
Artist's impression of a geological disposal facility

He said ward councillors were not informed until a week prior to a press announcement, and it hadn’t been debated or scrutinised by colleagues in “this supposedly member led council”.

He called on the council to “[use] its right of withdrawal with immediate effect, due to the strong opposition from the communities of South Holderness, as a promise was made to take the views of residents into account as the relevant principal local authority”.

The motion was seconded by fellow South East Holderness ward councillor Lyn Healing.

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Of the councillors, 53 voted, with just one councillor, Claire Holmes, voting against.

The cheers from the 100 or so residents who had gathered outside County Hall in Beverley to protest could be clearly heard when the result of the vote was declared.

It came after the government agency Nuclear Waste Services was given permission by the council’s inward investment arm to start a “conversation” with residents about building a geological waste disposal facility in an unidentified part of South Holderness.

Campaigners South Holderness GDF Action, which has 1,500 members on Facebook, say the scale of industrial development required would damage tourism and the environment, with roads full of HGV trucks for 20 years, creating “a spoil tip the size of Aberfan”.

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They weren’t convinced that locals would benefit from the thousands of jobs promised by NWS.

Coun Denis Healy, leader of the opposition Lib Dems, told the council meeting residents had spoken “unequivocally”, adding: “Let’s show respect, show resolve and give them our verdict right now without further discussion on this hare-brained scheme.”

Coun Healing said she’d initially been excited about the prospect of receiving £1m a year to spend on local projects, but had been given differing answers to questions at drop-ins, and had received hundreds of emails, calls and texts from unhappy residents. She said: “The overwhelming majority don’t want a nuclear waste facility.”

The plan would see highly toxic radioactive waste buried in specially designed and engineered vaults and tunnels hundreds of metres underground. Three other areas are being considered, two on the Cumbrian coast and another at Theddlethorpe on Lincolnshire's coast.

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NWS said: “We fully respect the council’s decision to withdraw from the GDF siting process. Together with the Working Group Chair, we will now take the necessary steps to wind down the South Holderness Working Group and respond to outstanding requests for more information.

“Since the launch we’ve met with over 1200 people. We would like to thank those that have given up their time to speak to us and learn more about the GDF Programme.

“We will continue to engage with the other three Community Partnerships currently involved in the GDF siting process and will consider other communities who are interested in learning more about this vital project and the benefits and opportunities it could bring.

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