The Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process

The Government published the MRWS white paper in June 2008, outlining the proposed process and stages that MRWS would take. Allerdale Borough Council expressed a without commitment interest in opening discussions with Government on the possibility of hosting a geological disposal facility at some point in the future (Stage 1) in January 2009. Allerdale, Copeland and the County Council soon after formed the West Cumbria MRWS Partnership and commissioned government to undertake initial geological screening and entered stage three.

Over the next three years the Partnership looked at reports and literature, heard from experts in the field, commissioned independent research and invited reviews by independent experts. The Partnership did not consider the geology of the area in any detail beyond that contained in the BGS Screening Report, as detailed studies of the geology of an area are the purpose of Stage four.

The Partnership placed a high priority on public and stakeholder engagement (PSE), carrying out three rounds of engagement in order to inform people, seek their input, and give feedback on how this changed our work. The final consultation conducted between November 2011 and March 2012 was a major public engagement exercise, following and far exceeding legal and statutory requirements given the scale and nature of the issue.

The fourth stage of the process consisted of desk-based studies estimated to take 4-5 years with an aim to start to narrow down the large available area for assessment to increasingly small and promising areas from a technical perspective (e.g. geology and land designations etc). It also allowed negotiations with community representatives on issues important to local residents (e.g. community benefits, impact mitigation etc.). At the end of Stage 4, the Councils would decide whether or not they wish to participate in Stage 5, or to bring the process to an end.  The Government’s White Paper on MRWS explained that Stage 4 needs to be completed prior to any intrusive investigations such as boreholes, which are planned for Stage 5 following another decision by councils to enter such a stage. Construction and operation could then follow in Stage 6, provided the councils decide not to withdraw from the process.

On 30 January 2013 Allerdale Borough Council and Copeland Borough Council voted to continue to the fourth stage. Cumbria County Council voted to withdraw from the process. As “three green lights” – ie the go-ahead from national, county and borough councils - was required for the MRWS process to continue, it was soon announced that this would not happen.


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Contact us

0303 123 1702

Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria,
CA14 3YJ