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Green light for plan to dispose of nuclear waste in Northants but opponents could appeal

Nuclear waste could be taken in by a Northamptonshire landfill site after the Government overturned the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the proposal.

Hazardous waste specialist Augean applied for planning in July 2009 to dispose of low-level radioactive waste (LLW) at its East Northants Resource Management Facility, in King’s Cliffe,near Peterborough. But Northamptonshire County Council turned down the application, which Augean appealed. A four-week public enquiry was then carried out in autumn 2010.  

In the appeal document published last week, the secretary of state acknowledged that local concern over safety was “genuinely held” and “not malicious or invented”. But he added: “The risk of actual harm from the development would be very low, and would meet the standard set by the Government.”

The Environment Agency has issued Augean with the necessary permits to dispose of LLW. The Northants site will now be able to process waste such as soils and construction materials from hospitals and decommissioned nuclear power stations. The site, which already processes hazardous waste, could take in up to 250,000 tonnes of material each year.

Neither the council nor the local opposition group, Waste Watchers, have said whether they will appeal the decision in the High Court. But, if so, they must apply within the next six weeks.

Ben Smith was Northamptonshire council’s chairman of the development control committee at the time of the application and gave evidence at the appeal. He said he was “disappointed” with the decision, and said opposition to the plan was unanimous locally across the three political parties.

“It has always been my view that LLW should be disposed of where it arises,” he added.

Augean issued a statement on its website that read: “We hope that members of the local community who have had reservations about these proposals can be reassured that both the secretary of state and the Environment Agency would not authorise permission for disposal of these wastes unless they were completely satisfied that they present negligible risk to human health or the environment.”

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