Lake District National Park may host nuclear waste site
Campaigners have called for the Lake District National Park to be excluded from a search for an underground nuclear waste repository in Cumbria.
Councils in the west of the county have expressed an interest in taking waste from the Sellafield reprocessing plant.
But at a public meeting in Keswick the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) was urged to rule out the national park.
The NDA said the park's geology could make it suitable for a repository.
The Lake District National Park Authority has already told the government that a repository "would not be in the long term interests of the Lake District".
Copeland and Allerdale have been earmarked as potential sites to store high-level radioactive waste.
Campaigners at Friday night's public meeting claimed a repository within the Lake District National Park would irreversibly damage its image.
Lead campaigner Harry Marsland, from Keswick, said: "Research shows that the Lake District has a near faultless image and is the best-regarded UK destination, beating Devon, Cornwall and London.
"A nuclear dump will do significant damage to that image.
"In Cumbria tourism is worth £2bn per annum, and employs 56,000 people directly, plus it provides the work for countless trades people, suppliers and retailers. Let's be clear, it depends upon the Lake District."
But Alun Ellis of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said: "At the moment we would not want to rule out some of the geology under the national park because that might prove a suitable site.
"But if we take it forward we would need to discuss it with the national park authority so that we can make sure any development is done in a way that does not have a long-term detrimental impact on that special environment."
Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council will decide at the end of the month whether they want to proceed with plans to identify a permanent underground repository.