Inquiry starts on plan to expand nuclear waste site

King's Cliffe villagers march in protest at radio active waste being dumped at a nearby landfill site
King's Cliffe villagers march in protest at radio active waste being dumped at a nearby landfill site

A meeting has been held to determine how proposals to expand the size and lifespan of a low level radioactive waste site in the county are to be examined.

Augean’s plans for the site at King’s Cliffe are among the first to be determined by a new process, set out in the Localism Act, for dealing with nationally significant infrastructure projects.

The company wants to extend the lifespan of the site to 2026, increase its soil treatment capacity from 100,000 tonnes a year to 150,000 and to construct a new landfill area to deal with 150,000 tonnes of low level radioactive waste a year, up to a maximum total of 250,000 tonnes.

Augean says the King’s Cliffe site is one of only two in the UK with the same soil treatment capacity and one of just eight in England and Wales which can deal with the same range of hazardous waste.

At the preliminary meeting at the Holiday Inn, Corby, today (Thursday, July 26) Jonathan Green, appointed the examining authority by the Planning Inspectorate, outlined the main issues arising from the application that he will be looking at and the timetable of the examination which must be completed by January 26, 2013.

Among the principal issues are the impact of the proposed expansion of the site on the ecology and landscape, including its effect on the rural character of the area.

Health issues are also to be considered and the potential impact of leakages of harmful material while it operates and after its closure on site workers, local residents, pupils in nearby schools and visitors to the area.

During the examination process the location of the site in relation to the sources of hazardous and low level radioactive waste will also be considered, along with the safety and management of the site, monitoring, site security and transportation, including the types and numbers of vehicles to be used and the suitability of roads.

Louise Bowen West, of the campaign group WasteWatchers attended the preliminary meeting and raised issues she would like Mr Green to consider.

She said: “There are concerns over the mixing of hazardous and low level radioactive waste in the short-term, the long-term and the very long-term.

“Will there be funding to monitor the site for the next 60 years and beyond?

“The A43 and A47 roads are often closed as a result of road accidents involving overturned lorries. Will there be adequate planning for this real risk?

“There is also a perception of harm in the community. The waste is not generate locally and residents feel there are no benefits for them, only harm.”

Mr Green stressed that individuals and groups who have not already registered as interested parties, enabling them to speak at future hearings on the proposals, may still have the opportunity to express their views.

In the coming months impact reports on the proposals compiled by local authorities and agencies will be studied and there will be hearings on specific issues, site visits and open floor hearings.

Others attending the preliminary meeting included Richard Phillips QC for Augean, Phil Watson, development control manager with Northamptonshire County Council and representatives of the Environment Agency, Peterborough City Council, East Northants District Council and Woodnewton and Duddington parish councils.

After the examination is completed, Mr Green will have three months to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State who will make the final decisions.