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Holderness withdraws from UK repository siting process

22 February 2024

Just one month after the formation of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) Working Group, East Riding of Yorkshire Council has voted to withdraw from talks about the possibility of a UK radioactive waste repository being built in South Holderness.

Withernsea, a seaside resort town and civil parish in Holderness (Image: NWS)

Last month, East Riding of Yorkshire Council accepted an invitation from Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) to join the South Holderness GDF Working Group. The group’s role is to open up engagement with the community, begin the work to understand the local area and identify an initial search area for further consideration. The group would also identify initial members for a GDF Community Partnership, which would take over from the Working Group and be a more enduring vehicle for community engagement and involvement in the siting process, including developing a community vision and distributing community investment funding.

However, at a meeting on 21 February, councillors voted 53-1 in favour of a motion brought by Councillor Sean McMaster, which called on the council to withdraw from the siting process for the facility.

McMaster, ward councillor for South East Holderness, said there had been an “overwhelming response” from the community since the formation of the Working Group. 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”.

Councillor Anne Handley, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The purpose of the Working Group was always to open a conversation with the community about whether a GDF would be right for the South Holderness area. The council and NWS were clear about that from the very start.

“In the past few weeks, many people within the community have made it clear that they find this idea unpalatable and do not want South Holderness to be part of the conversation. Many other people have attended the drop-in events curious to find out more about the long-term benefits a GDF could bring to its host community. Councillors have today considered all these views and decided that it is right to withdraw from this process.”

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

NWS 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”.

Between late-2021 and mid-2022, four localities formed Community Partnerships interested in hosting a GDF – Allerdale, South Copeland and Mid Copeland in Cumbria in northwest England, and Theddlethorpe in Lincolnshire, in eastern England. However, in September last year, Allerdale was removed from the siting process due to limited suitable geology.

The UK search for a GDF site is based on the idea of community consent. Finding the right site to build the GDF could take 10-15 years.

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