Harrogate, along with other communities up and down England, has lost its mandate to refuse nuclear waste being imposed on its boundaries after a vote in parliament.
A late April vote in the commons gives the government the right to bypass local planning laws, opening the door to hazardous waste being dumped in locations formerly out of bounds. Autonomy over sites previously under the domain of local council are now regarded as significant projects for our infrastructure, and can now be chosen as potential dumping groups by the secretary of state for energy, conservative Amber Rudd.
The vote faced little scrutiny, possibly due to its timing – taking place late in the day before parliament disbanded for the general election, sparking fierce criticism from campaign groups. Zac Goldsmith, one of the only MPs to actually oppose the move, spoke out after the vote. “Effectively it strips local authorities of the ability to stop waste being dumped in their communities,” said Goldsmith.
If the handling of hazardous material does become the norm, citizens should be aware that there are many experienced companies, such as UK owned and operated Denios, with a range of products designed to deal with harmful matter in the safest way possible.
The vote is seen by the government as a solution to the long standing problem of finding a place to store Britain’s stockpile of radioactive waste, created from over 50 years of nuclear activities. The production of nuclear energy and weaponry creates radioactive waste in the process, remaining active for tens of thousands of years and which the government say can be held in secure vaults, but campaigners say it is not a solution but is perpetuating the current problem.
Those opposing the move say that sociological implications of creating toxic waste that will be around for future generations to deal with is immoral, not least of all because of the threats that face us in the future that are out of our control.
Zoe Shipton, professor of geological engineering at the University of Strathclyde, spoke of the harmful storage options that Britain is considering. “This cannot continue long term, as at the surface the waste will be exposed to many possible threats, including terrorism, tsunamis and climate change,” said Shipton.
Harrogate’s Fire Department are no strangers to the dangers of nuclear energy, having very nearly been called upon to assist with the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.