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Communities to be Bribed To Take Nuclear Waste

The UK Government has offered to pay communities to provide burial sites for waste, and made clear that it would press ahead with plans to build new nuclear power stations. Areas of the UK which offer sites will become involved in a "multi-billion-pound" project which will bring benefits such as hundreds of new, skilled jobs, Ministers said.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central, said: "Construction and operation of a geological disposal facility will be a multi-billion-pound high-technology project that will provide skilled employment for hundreds of people over many decades. It will contribute greatly to the local economy and wider socio-economic framework."

But critics accused the Government of offering "bribes" for taking waste which will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Greenpeace's nuclear campaigner Nathan Argent said: "Nuclear waste is a financial and geological nightmare. There is no plausible solution for our existing legacy waste, let alone the waste from new reactors, which will be at least three times more radioactive.

"This is not about finding a solution for nuclear waste. It's about bribing a community with £1bn of taxpayers' money to bury waste in their back garden. But there's no guarantee a willing community will come forward or that they'll be able to find a geologically suitable site anywhere in this country."
The UK Government has offered to pay communities to provide burial sites for waste, and made clear that it would press ahead with plans to build new nuclear power stations. Areas of the UK which offer sites will become involved in a "multi-billion-pound" project which will bring benefits such as hundreds of new, skilled jobs, Ministers said.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central, said: "Construction and operation of a geological disposal facility will be a multi-billion-pound high-technology project that will provide skilled employment for hundreds of people over many decades. It will contribute greatly to the local economy and wider socio-economic framework."

But critics accused the Government of offering "bribes" for taking waste which will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Greenpeace's nuclear campaigner Nathan Argent said: "Nuclear waste is a financial and geological nightmare. There is no plausible solution for our existing legacy waste, let alone the waste from new reactors, which will be at least three times more radioactive.

"This is not about finding a solution for nuclear waste. It's about bribing a community with £1bn of taxpayers' money to bury waste in their back garden. But there's no guarantee a willing community will come forward or that they'll be able to find a geologically suitable site anywhere in this country."

Liberal Democrat spokesman Steve Webb said: "The bill for cleaning up our past nuclear waste is soaring astronomically. These sweeteners to bribe communities into taking a new waste dump will increase these costs further."

Mr Benn said any talks with councils would be "exploratory and carry no commitment to actually hosting a facility".

It was likely to take several decades before such a waste facility was ready. He said: "Any community that ultimately hosts a facility will fulfil an essential service to the nation and would expect government to ensure that the project contributes to its well being. "To this end there maybe other benefits identified and developed through discussions between the community and the Government."

Mr Benn said Ministers wanted to talk to any community that might have an interest in this and said he would be writing to all councils about developing a suitable deep geological disposal facility.

Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner Neil Crumpton said: "Britain's growing mountain of nuclear waste will remain a dangerous threat for tens of thousands of years, and is already costing the taxpayer over £70bn in clean-up costs alone.

"Building a new generation of nuclear reactors would create more waste that is even more toxic than the current material. "