16/10/2011 The Politics Show North East and Cumbria


Jon Sopel and Richard Moss are here with the top political stories of the week.

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Should something like this be built on the Cumbrian countryside? We


consider whether nuclear waste should be buried.


Should local people be turned into planners? We will be finding out in


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1499 seconds


Will it work? I will be finding out. First a new generation of power


stations is being considered including one in Cumbria and one on


Tyneside. There is no reason to haul them on safety grounds that


there is another obstacle. One option is building an


underground store in Cumbria. Our reporter went with a delegation of


local councillors to France. On a mission far from home.


Councillors deep underground at a Councillors deep underground at a


Councillors deep underground at a Councillors deep underground at a


laboratory in France. On all sides an extensive network.


500 metres below ground. Behind me excavation workers are digging into


rocks to see if it might be suitable for the long-term storage


of nuclear waste. This facility will never store or


radioactive waste. But by 2025 the French government hopes to build a


repository in their eyrie at. It is an eye opener. It gives us a


feel of what could occur. The size of the tunnels is massive. It is


like starting gate. But there is no doubting the importance of the


decision. In the 1990s the British government tried and failed to find


a site for burying a high-level nuclear waste. This time the


politicians needed to get it right. Geology is geology. We need a


solution that is safe and accepted by everybody. We need a consensus.


We need to have an agreement around this project. This is a long-term


project. This project will last a minimum of 200 years. That is the


concern for those who oppose underground storage. TRANSLATION:


there are a number of arguments. What is important is to make sure


that nuclear waste is not buried. That will never be fully researched,


will pollute for a long time and be hard to control. Deep disposal is


sweeping it under the carpet. in Cumbria environmentally


activists are finding it hard to believe the region is once again


being considered. This is crazy. It is taking us back to their position


we were in at 20 years ago when the dump was supposed to be forced on


us. Now we are in the same position but it looks as if the local


authorities have volunteer. All investigations were done all that


time ago culminating in a public inquiry into a rock laboratory and


it was thrown at it because we were a totally unsuitable area. So where


will always be buried? No site have been specified, but this map has


been published showing sites in of red that will not be suitable. That


means some of the most beautiful parts of the Lake District National


Park have not been ruled out. For the politicians their visit to


France has focused their thoughts. The laboratory was the one thing


that stood out. We want to carry out borehole work if the community


take the decision to move forward. What is now in my mind is something


like a laboratory would be a boost. The Community could see first hand


the work and the Test and it would happen. In the spring the councils


will decide whether to press ahead to the next stage of the process.


The Government would like to find a solution soon, but critics are


hoping the complex geology of Cumbria will still be found wanting.


Should Cumbria be considered as the site for banning high-level nuclear


waste? We have somebody who used to work


in the nuclear industry with us and we have a Conservative MP.


I know you think this is a good thing for Cumbria. Is it just about


jobs? It is not just about jobs. If you look at the history of nuclear


waste and storage it has been beset by short-termism. A succession of


governments have not wanted to deal with the problem. It is in the best


long-term interests of everybody in the county and my own constituents


that we do move ahead with the deep geological facility should that


area be suitable. That is all very well, but if a West Cumbrian side


had been considered in the past and ruled out as an say, what has


changed? That is not true. I worked in the nuclear industry and work


for the agency that was responsible for exploring that facility in the


1990s. The nature of the geology of any airier actually changes that


engineering challenge which the project would present. There is a


number of fundamental misconceptions surrounding this


issue. This would not be a bump as some claim. It would not be buried


in that kind of a motor cents. It would be a deep underground store.


That is better for the storage of radioactive waste. I do not think


there is another plan on this. The most eminent minds in the country


have looked at it over a long period of time and this is the best


way forward. There has to be suspicion that Cumbria is chosen


because it has an association with the nuclear industry and that might


override any concerns about geology that really did come up last time.


Those concerns cannot be overridden. I would not let them be over ridden.


Everybody a matter where they are in relation to the industry would


let that happen. It is a technical and sophisticated process. This is


something that we now need to get on with. I have made the case to


successive governments and to the current Government regarding a


repository be there in 2040. I have called for 2025. The government


thinks they can do it by 2029. Time is of the essence. The longer we


leave it the more it will cost. there a danger of the tail wagging


the dog? Are be rushing with undue haste just so that we can build a


new generation of nuclear power stations. It is quite the opposite.


Successive governments have failed to get to grips with this over many


decades. We have a huge amount of using nuclear material, nuclear


waste, which is currently stored above ground. It has to be guarded


at great cost. The government are working to find a solution. We have


cross-party consensus. They're working with local communities will


stop the are insuring everything is done properly. Somebody said that


the legacy of the waste is �2 billion pair waste to store it. And


that is why we should not go down this route. We cannot rely on any


one source. The there is a huge legacy that we're having to deal


with now. That suggests it is not achievable. It is not achievable


with electricity. It is comparable with other forms of using


electricity. We are looking for a generation X. We are not ruling out


any one form of generation. If we do not get to grips with this the


light will go out. This is not optional. We have to build new


nuclear power plant and power plants and other sorts to keep the


lights on. The film that we saw suggested that this its areas


suitable could be in the middle of a national park. Is that acceptable


question mark we will have to wait and see. We will have to have those


detailed discussions. We will have to acknowledge that that that was


the case then it would not be as if anybody was going to dig and nine


chat right in the middle of the National Park and access any kind


of repository in the middle of a national park. The access would be


potentially above the Sellafield site. And National Park, a


priceless asset, would have tons of nuclear waste underneath it.


completely except that people would be concerned about that and the


dialogue surrounding this, let us not forget that this is based upon


the principle of voluntarism, which is essential here. The entire


process these to be open and transparent. I want to get involved


in a properly informed and engage dialogue with anybody who has any


concerns. How confident are you that the public will be consulted


on this? The council is involved but will the public get a say?


can see that already. We have seen that with the history of these


sorts of projects. When previous governments have looked at


solutions to this problem invariably in some areas there has


been opposition that has been listened to and that is one reason


why we have not yet sold it. It clear and active community


engagement. At this early stage people are engaging with it and


talking about it. I do not see any reason to doubt that. Thank you.


Most people would welcome having a greater say in what goes on. Also


when it comes to building new houses or wind farms. It seems the


Government agrees. It has set up pilot schemes. That will give


locals more control over neighbourhood planning. What does


that mean? Will we get the powers? Northumberland. You might think


this is sleepy, but the village cafe is not just in brewing tea.


All of the things... The villagers are here to take part in what could


be a people power revolution. It is a pilot is rare for a government


project. They will draw up what they want and do not want in their


community. We are the people live here. We have to use the services.


Our children go to school here. It is fundamental that we have the


real understanding of what we need and what the ex bet for the future


in relation to services and developments. It is fundamental


that we are involved in this. Rather than being a wish-list the


plan will have to be taken into account the never any development


is taking into account. But there is a limit to this. Under one of


these schemes a parish can more or less decide what it wants to do


itself and cut itself adrift from the rest of the country.


Unfortunately it cannot do that. It must at here to national planning


guidelines. Hopefully some of the things that a more local level we


can influence. Important things such as local housing, site for


small businesses. But the new national planning policy that the


plans of the parish will have to fit into might not suit every


community. But national policy will include a presumption of favour in


regard to sustainable developments in the countryside. For those that


do not want some plans there is a fear that the parish plan will not


be worth the paper it is written on. The problem we have at the present


time is that the government is only encouraging it if local communities


are minded to do development, do what the government wants. If they


are wanting to protect their own environment as it is and prevent


development, I do not think that the neighbourhood planning will


have them at all. There are is that would like development. This area


in North Shields is another test bed. These local people are part of


a group beginning to draw up what it wants. More regeneration is top


of the last. We are looking at run- down areas. There are buildings


that have been vacant for a number of years. Nobody knows what to do


with them. The community can decide what to do. We are being invited


and encouraged to get people in to advise as on issues and constraints.


By bringing us all together and getting a feeling for it, we may


not become professional planners, but potentially we will understand


the issues better if. Even the will there is some people power in


evidence it is being underpinned with a lot of support by the local


council - support that can only be offered because it is only


happening in a few pilot areas. question arises if it is to be


rolled it out beyond the pilot stage and that question is can


councils possibly support them all? They cannot do that in the level of


support there are giving to the pilot. To what extent is it a


diversion from other things that are important that the present


time? Few people are likely to quibble about communities directing


their own destinies, but there will be a debate about whether


neighbourhood planning can deliver their kind of power that the


government promises? This is just part of the


government's locals an agenda which also includes things such as free


school set up by parents, and elected mayors. Let us see what our


panellists think. If you want to protect what you


have got this could be useless could it not? We have to


acknowledge the rare starting from. At the moment planners and local


authorities have a local development framework which is


effectively a big neighbourhood plan for the council a rare. We are


giving powers to local communities to have more of a say in how that


development framework is going to proceed. What it will look like and


what it means for the community. We cannot say, and the Government


could not say, we will go Communities power so there will be


no more developments no matter what. What we're saying is that there


should be greater consultation. This is a welcome step in that


direction. The message coming from David Cameron is that if you want


to get in the wake of these -- get out of the way of those


developments go down to the JobCentre. Those that do not want a


wind farm, the do not have the power. It is about allowing


communities to influence what happens. The wind farm, houses?


you are resident in a small village the first time you might know about


the possibility of houses being built has been and will does goes


on the lamp-post by which time it is too late to influence that


decision. This is now an opportunity to your parish council,


town council, or local body of residents, to influence that at a


local level at an earlier stage. This is giving local people control


over how their area develops. might quibble with the detail, but


is the principle of giving more people a stake the right one?


problem with this proposal is that it is essentially seeking to give


power to people which they already have. The problems with the


planning process and this country is that it takes too long, and it


is too slow. That can that their investment. I would be supportive


of any development that allows planning to be brought forward more


quickly. Bringing it forward more quickly does not make it more


responsive to people unnecessarily. It could be the opposite. That is


true. It could be the opposite. But the principle of involving more


people and planning is absolutely right. To these proposals do that?


I do not think so. If anybody wanted to contribute towards


planning proposals within the system as it can understand then


there is lot of scope to do that. One of the problems I think, and I


think the trials show this, is that a lot of resources will be taken


away from local planning authorities to make sure that these


trials work or at least show some signs of success. That is the


problem. Local authorities do not have enough resources. They do not


have enough people to make sure that they can properly influence


decisions. You're a going to trying to us across the country but that


will not work. I do not accept that. Extra resources have been given to


the pilot areas so that these schemes can be pushed through and


assessed and the government can make an informed decision. You do


not have enough planning officers? You do not have to have all of


their extra resources to develop and neighbourhood plan. People


would quibble with that because these need to be legally binding


plans and you cannot mess with them they must be a support network.


course they need support mechanism. The problem of planning at the


moment is that it is complicated. People look at it and say that is


not for me. I do not feel I have a saying that. What the Government is


doing is simplified planning, passing more control to people in


those communities. There are committees in my constituency that


are well down the track. People are doing a brilliant job of pulling


together a committee plan. That will allow them to influence their


village. Is the reality not that middle-class committees have time


and power and only they will do this. It is hard to see people


doing this in places where people are struggling to make a living.


find that sort of talk condescending. This is an


opportunity for anybody wants to engage. Where other communities


that this is happening? There are 17 pilot areas. We hear this time


and time again. This will only benefit people who choose to engage


and only middle-class people will benefit. We hear this time and time


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