Some Cumbrian politicians seem to think the only way to develop the West Cumbrian economy is by expanding the nuclear industry – in short “there is no Plan B”.(1) This means building three new nuclear reactors adjacent to the Sellafield nuclear waste plant, a new plutonium fuel fabrication facility at Sellafield, and an underground nuclear waste dump somewhere in West Cumbria.(2)
West Cumbria & North Lakes Friends of the Earth and No 2 Nuclear Power have teamed up to challenge that idea on this website. We show that we don’t need to rely on new nuclear facilities (producing radioactive waste we don’t know how to ‘dispose’ of) to provide future employment opportunities in Cumbria. A Sustainable Cumbria should be making use of the County’s natural and renewable resources, as efficiently as possible, to contribute to the area’s wellbeing in perpetuity, not building more nuclear facilities whose life spans a few decades but which leave a legacy and a problem for centuries.
This website is linked to Friends of the Earth’s national Clean British Energy Campaign, and is part of our own local campaign for the safe storage of nuclear waste. If follows on from our March 2013 Briefing ‘Towards a Safer Cumbria’, which shows how the government, regulators and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority have neglected nuclear waste in Cumbria.
We issued initial ideas for this website as a report in June 2013 and invited comments from anyone and any institution interested in Cumbria’s future. We held a consultative conference in Cockermouth on 19th October 2013, where a whole host of suggestions were made for improving the plan. All these ideas and others sent by e-mail have been considered, and many are included here. But we hope the process will not stop there. Sustainability is also about democratic ways of working and we hope this will be the start of a county-wide conversation about the future of one of the most beautiful places in the country.
We have drawn inspiration from Germany, where nuclear power is being phased out and renewables are gradually taking over. Many Germans sense the economic opportunities of their Energy Transition, and believe their “energy revolution” is spelled j-o-b-s. (3)
But we don’t have to go to Germany to find a sustainable vision for Cumbria. We find inspiration from Local Authorities, Community Energy Projects and others around the UK. From Energy Co-operatives in Bath, Bristol, Sheffield, and Brixton; to solar schemes for social housing in Wrexham and Birmingham; district heating schemes in Dundee and Aberdeen; a geothermal project in Manchester; heat stores in Berwickshire and innovative plans to establish Glasgow as a centre of excellence in the development of sustainable energy technologies.
We hope this website will be seen as a constructive contribution to the debate over renewable energy, nuclear power, nuclear waste, and the future of Cumbria. After its launch in 2014 we will keep adding up-to-date examples of projects in Cumbria and around the UK, so please keep checking back for inspiration, and do let us know what you think, by clicking on “contact” in the menu at the top of the page.
Please get involved!