Baroness Verma, Beatrix Potter, Lake District National Park, legacy, Lords Hansard, National Park, nuclear energy, nuclear waste, Peter Rabbit, UK House of Lords, World Heritage Site, World Heritage Site in Danger
UK House of Lords: All but one of the speakers want more nuclear waste to be made, but they hypocritically want location choice for the dump – mostly not in their backyards. Verma’s area of England, Leicestershire, seems to be the most nuclear-free zone, and yet she runs around pushing more nuclear in general, and on the Lake District-Cumbria, in particular. There is nothing in Verma’s educational or professional background, which makes her qualified for such an important task, either. She was neither born in the UK, nor is she of British ancestry. Furthermore, she was unable to get elected to the House of Commons, so someone appointed her to the House of Lords. She is part of the new fake aristocracy, which sits in the House of Lords. Strange… Beatrix Potter-Peter Rabbit’s legacy of the Lake District National Park is endangered by this nuclear lackey-apparent status-seeker.
“Parliamentary business; Publications and Records ; Lords Publications; Lords Hansard; Lords Hansard by Date; Daily Hansard
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Grand Committee, Wednesday, 25 February 2015, Arrangement of Business Announcement, 3.45 pm
The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Andrews) (Lab): My Lords, I should advise the Committee that if there is a Division in the Chamber the Committee will adjourn for 10 minutes.
Infrastructure Planning (Radioactive Waste Geological Disposal Facilities) Order 2015
Motion to Consider
Moved by Baroness Verma
That the Grand Committee do consider the Infrastructure Planning (Radioactive Waste Geological Disposal Facilities) Order 2015.
Relevant document: 19th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 24th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): My Lords, I will introduce the order before providing background on geological disposal and why the Government recommend that this order should be approved.
On 12 January, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change laid before the House a draft order to bring certain development relating to geological disposal facilities for radioactive waste within the definition of “nationally significant infrastructure projects” in the Planning Act 2008. Making this legislative change will help us to implement geological disposal, an action vital for both for our energy past and energy future. As a pioneer of nuclear technology, the UK has accumulated a legacy of higher-activity radioactive waste and materials.”
[LEGACY? LEGACY! Legacy is the Lake District National Park, most, or all, of which was purchased and donated to the UK National Trust by Beatrix Potter: “Potter published over 23 books: the best known are those written between 1902 and 1922. She died of pneumonia and heart disease on 22 December 1943 at her home in Near Sawrey (Lancashire) at age 77, leaving almost all her property to the National Trust. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatrix_Potter Had she lived there would be no Sellafield in its current location. Legacy is something good that you will to heirs, not something dangerous and deadly like radiation. If they are pioneers why is there no solution; why are old open-air fuel pools leaking water? Why does Sellafield continue to emit plutonium and other radioactive nasties into the Irish Sea and air?]
Verma continues: “More will arise as existing nuclear facilities reach the end of their lifetime and are decommissioned and cleaned up, and through the operation and decommissioning of any new nuclear power stations.”
[ARISE? Arise! Verma et. al. want to make new! It’s not “arising” on its own!]
Verma continues: “Most noble Lords will be aware, but it is worth reiterating, that geological disposal is recognised across the world, and by our own independent Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, as being the best available approach for the long-term management of higher-activity radioactive waste. A geological disposal facility, or GDF, is a highly engineered facility capable of isolating radioactive waste within multiple protective barriers, deep underground, so that no harmful quantities of radioactivity ever reach the surface.” (OPL)
[Isolated? Any more jokes?
The US equivalent in New Mexico, WIPP. Plutonium and Americium got out. Oh, her double-speak is “not harmful quantities“, as defined by the nuclear lobby, whereas there are no safe doses of ionizing radiation, according to the BEIR report.
Our general summary of various responses to Verma, by the other “Lords”: Those speaking want more nuclear power, they just apparently don’t want the waste in their backyard. They don’t want the nuclear waste imposed on themselves, but rather on others. No one in their right minds wants the nuclear waste, so it will eventually be imposed on one or more places, unless they stop making it. They also confusedly appear to believe that Sellafield no longer emits dangerous radionuclides, like Plutonium, into the Irish Sea. Whereas, Sellafield still has its pipeline legally emitting dangerous radionuclides, including plutonium, into the Irish Sea, as well as into the air. Cumbria is probably the most poorly suited site in the UK for nuclear waste due to climate, geology, and earthquake risk, but it is unlikely that there is a suitable site in the UK due to the wet climate. The west coast is the wettest, however.]
Only Voice of Sanity-Reason, from the Green Party Baroness:
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Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP): My Lords, I am not Cumbrian and I have absolutely no connection with Cumbria—I live in Southwark—but I support the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, in his request that this order be withdrawn. It is clear that he was speaking from a democratic point of view, which is an incredibly valid thing to be concerned about. The fact that it is Labour legislation does not mean that it has to be used; there is a lot of quite bad legislation still on the books that really ought to be repealed.
There are a few environmental concerns expressed in a report called Rock Solid?, which was produced for Greenpeace specifically for this sort of action. There are concerns that have to be answered and the relative risks and dangers, as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, have perhaps not been assessed as stringently as they might have been. For example, copper and steel canisters and overpack containing spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste could corrode more quickly than expected; we do not know. The effects of intense heat generated by radioactive decay and the chemical and physical disturbance due to corrosion, gas generation and biomineralisation could impair the ability of backfill material to trap some radionuclides.
The build-up of gas pressure in the repository, as a result of the corrosion of metals and/or the degradation of organic material, could damage the barriers and force fast routes out through crystalline rock fractures or clay rock pores. There are also poorly understood chemical effects, such as the formation of colloids, which could speed up some of the more radiotoxic elements such as plutonium. Unidentified fractures and faults, or a poor understanding of how water and gas might flow through the ground, could lead to the release of toxic materials into groundwater. These are concerns that cannot be ignored, and the order needs a little more research about whether this is an activity that can be supported with a view to complete public safety. I would argue that it is not, but I look forward to the Minister reassuring us.”
[Prior to Baroness Jones, Lord Judd made some important points, as she mentions. But, he apparently fails to understand that nuclear energy must stop both to reduce risk of accident and to address the existing waste. Also, the proposed dump under the Lake District would impact the surface of the Lake District National Park, which Beatrix Potter worked so hard and bought up farms to save. Monies from Peter Rabbit and her other books and related products paid to preserve the land, meaning that the Lake District belongs to people everywhere. Furthermore, the Windscale (now Sellafield) accident fallout impacted almost the entire UK and much of Northern Europe. ]
Beatrix Potter, 1902.
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“Lord Judd (Lab): My Lords, as a humble citizen of Cumbria, I was very reassured to hear my noble friend Lord Liddle speaking as powerfully as he did. He certainly reflects widespread feeling within the county. It is sometimes easy to exaggerate but I think that there is almost a breakdown in trust. There is a feeling
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that the Government have for a long time been absolutely determined to drive through this project in west Cumbria, and that everything will therefore be done to ensure that it happens. Scepticism, to use a milder word, is inevitable if you have a situation in which, under the established rules, the permissions of the local authorities—and very much the county council—were essential if the project were to go ahead. When it turned out that the county council, with its greater strategic responsibilities, was not in favour of the recent attempt to develop further research into the possibilities, the rules of the game were revised so that in further consultations it would not be necessary to involve the county council but other local authorities could be involved. This inevitably leads to doubt.
It is also important to realise that while my noble friend Lord Liddle was absolutely right to emphasise the strategic issues of transport and all the rest—just think of the A66, the Penrith junction with the M6 and the consequences right across to Scotch Corner—this has immense implications for the wider region. That is why the local authority most responsible for the wider region, since this goes well beyond the county, should be closely involved.
I want to raise one other issue that we do not like talking about. The difficulty is that if you raise it, you will be accused of scaremongering. However, there are risks in a development of any kind to do with nuclear energy and nuclear power. We are living in an absolute world of absurdity if we believe that the consequences of anything going seriously wrong would be limited to Cumbria. It would be the whole north-west, to say the very least, and would probably be wider than that. These are issues on which we need a great deal of reassurance. I have not yet heard anything that reassures at the level necessary.
We must also recognise that there is a fundamental contradiction in the approach to governance because, as I understand it, the Government have been insistent that they favour localism—and very much on any project of this kind, because the involvement and approval of the local community has repeatedly been stated as essential. Yet the whole idea of strategic projects of this kind is to cut back and streamline what has been there traditionally and was very hard won: the possibility for local communities to pursue the things that disturb them and their consequences.
I must emphasise an interest here. Apart from being a citizen of Cumbria, I am also a patron of the Friends of the Lake District and a vice-president of the Campaign for National Parks. It seems to me that these issues about which we started talking in relation to Cumbria apply to the country as a whole. I like the idea of localism but I am not the slightest bit persuaded—and I do not believe that I could be persuaded—that issues of strategic significance such as this can be shuffled on to local authorities, with their limited resources, for them ultimately to decide whether or not to go ahead with them.
Although I am by no means an enthusiast for nuclear energy, I accept that a new generation of nuclear energy will be necessary. It seems to me that, by definition, nuclear energy and its development is a national responsibility, and that the consequences of that must be seen as a national responsibility. Therefore,
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I would like specific assurance from the Minister that at the outset of any such project it will be considered essential to undertake a transparent and convincing national survey to establish the best, most favourable and least dangerous place in which to develop it. When that has been established, then, of course, local involvement becomes crucial.”
“Many geologists of great distinction are already saying, and have done for some time, that Cumbria is not the place to have a project of this kind because of the situation with subterranean water. There is a feeling that these scientists of distinction have never been given the hearing on the project that they should have had. Some have made their work available at their own expense as they feel so concerned about it and have put it on public record.
We have to face the fact that nuclear waste exists and there is a whole realm of anxieties about its security and the integrity of the facilities that contain it. We are going ahead to the next generation of nuclear power, which will generate more waste, so we have to find a solution—that is the bottom line—for both existing and future waste. When we have found the right place and mobilised public confidence that everything possible has been done to make the project as safe and secure as possible—I do not believe that it will ever be made completely safe for future generations—we can get into that debate. However, we must be reassured that a national survey has been done and that there is a list—preferably prioritised—of the sites that are right and those that are not, and of those that are better and those that are less well suited. That has not happened. The Minister must put us in the picture about this and give us specific reassurances.” Entire debate found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/150225-gc0001.htm © Parliamentary Copyright, Open Parliament Licence. [The Parliamentary information is in parenthesis and italicized. Non-italicized commentary, mostly in brackets, emphasis and images our own.]
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb is the only Green Party member in the House of Lords. UK Green Party Policy:
“EN260 A green government will phase out polluting and unsustainable power sources.
EN261 We will cancel construction of new nuclear stations and nuclear power will not be eligible for government subsidy; the Green Party opposes all nuclear power generation and is particularly opposed to the construction of new nuclear power stations,… Cancellation will avoid the costs and dangers of nuclear energy and waste being passed on to future generations long after any benefits have been exhausted.
EN262 Money earmarked for new nuclear plant research, development and construction will be reallocated to energy efficiency measures and renewable energy infrastructure, but sufficient funding for decommissioning redundant power stations, and for research into the safe storage or disposal of existing radioactive waste stockpiles will be retained.” http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ey.html
[Emphasis our own.]