Working In Partnership Copeland

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GDF siting terms explained

May 28, 2021

A question which regularly comes up in discussions with the Working Group is what are the different ‘areas’ and ‘sites’ that are talked about in the Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) siting process. This information sheet is to help explain the different terms used and in which part of the siting process they are relevant.

What is an Area of Interest?

During initial discussions prior to the formation of the Working Group, Areas of Interest are proposed by Interested Parties and Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) use these as a basis for the Initial Evaluations to determine if they have any potential to host a GDF.

In Copeland there were 4 areas of interest put forward:

  • Inshore Area near to the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR)
  • South Copeland Area together with the adjacent inshore area
  • Copeland area together with the adjacent inshore area
  • Copeland area together with the adjacent inshore area

All areas of interest excluded consideration of the Lake District National Park.

Four separate Initial Evaluation Reports were produced by RWM for each of the Interested Parties which concluded there may be potential to host a GDF within the Areas of Interest. RWM and all Interested Parties agreed to open up discussion more widely and formed the Copeland GDF Working Group. No potential sites for a GDF were identified at this stage.

What is the Working Group Area?

Using the Areas of Interest brought forward by the Interested Parties, the Working Group agreed a Working Group Area. The Copeland GDF Working Group Area considers the whole of the Borough of Copeland and adjacent inshore area up to 22.2km from the coastline, with the exclusion of the area within the boundary of the Lake District National Park and subsequently the 2019 proposed extension. No potential sites for a GDF have been identified at this stage.

What is a Search Area?

One of the responsibilities of a Working Group is to identify a Search Area. The Search Area(s) is the geographical area within which RWM would undertake studies and consider potential sites for a GDF if a Community Partnership is formed. For areas which include potential for development under the seabed, the policy definition of the Search Area is only that area on land.

The Search Area is defined using district, or unitary council electoral ward boundaries, depending on the administrative arrangements in place. The Search Area(s) identified by the Working Group are simply a starting point in the GDF siting journey and can be refined further over time if a Community Partnership is formed.

What is a Potential Host Community?

A Community Partnership is intended to be a larger enduring group which would take over from the Working Group and consider the possibilities of GDF siting in more detail, including further public engagement and creating a ‘Community Vision’ for the long-term well-being of the community. It would be a partnership between members of the community, at least one principal local authority in the Search Area (such as district or county council) and RWM.

The Potential Host Community is the community within a geographical area that could potentially host a GDF. It will be identified over time from within the Search Area. The boundaries of the Potential Host Community need to be defined to determine who will get a say in the Test of Public Support. The Potential Host Community will be defined using district, or unitary council electoral ward boundaries, depending on the administrative arrangements in place in the area.

The Potential Host Community would include all of the wards in which the proposed surface and underground elements of a GDF; any associated development; transport links/routes from a proposed GDF and direct physical impacts associated with underground investigations, construction and operation of a GDF would be located.

Identifying a Potential Host Community will take several years due to the need to properly identify, investigate, and assess potential sites.

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