Newry.ie

An emergency cross party motion was put forward at the monthly meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council on Monday night, following  reports that parts of the council area were being investigated by Radioactive Waste Management as a location for a Geological Disposal Facility for radioactive waste.

Thirteen regions throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland, each divided into several sub-regions have been assessed for suitability in regard to the geology of the area.

The motion proposed by Cllr John Trainor, seconded by Cllr Willie Clarke was supported by SDLP, Sinn Féin, DUP, UUP, Alliance and independents and it  stated "Newry, Mourne and Down District Council does not consent and never will consent to hosting a Geological Disposal Facility in our council area or any part of Northern Ireland"

Speaking at the meeting Cllr John Trainor said "The council notes with great concern the conclusions from the National geological screening for a Geological Disposal Facility by Radioactive Waste Management which suggested that parts of Newry, Mourne and Down district and other areas in Northern Ireland might be suitable for a Geological Disposal Facility. This council will write to the minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy stating the council position as read that Newry, Mourne and Down District Council does not consent and never will consent to hosting a Geological Disposal Facility in our council area or any part of Northern Ireland"

Cllr Trainor added "This council will ask the other ten councils in the north to take a similar position and equally write to the minister"

"It's important that we as a council make very clear our position on the siting of a Geological Disposal Facility and to show the people of this council area and beyond that we are concerned of the potential risks of such a facility being sited here in the north.

"We will not sit idly by and allow it to happen. We must send a clear message to the British minister that we do not want Nuclear waste dumped into our areas of national beauty, or anywhere in our districts for that matter and neither do our residents here in Newry, Mourne and Down and furthur afield.

The Downpatrick Councillor also spoke about the potential transport of the waste "We do not want nuclear waste transported across the Irish Sea, brought into our ports and transported on our roads and through our communities. We ask our colleagues in councils across the north to take a similar position to equally show their concern for the residents in their respective areas."

"For years our communities and politicians in this council area have raised the issue with Sellafield and the storage of nuclear waste on that site. If we were to raise issue with nuclear materials being stored on the coast of England but were to stay silent on proposals on storage here in Northern Ireland, especially at a time when the public are concerned it would be a damning inditement of us as a council."

Speaking on his hope of unanimous support Cllr Trainor concluded "This is not about politics, this is about us as 41 councillors doing something that's right for the people of this area."

Cllr Clarke who seconded the motion said there is no community consent for such a facility on the island of Ireland.

"There was a lot of discussion on social media over the weekend and a lot of anger and outrage and fear in the community over this proposal, and while it will never materialise it does create a great deal of fear in the local communities and they turn to us as elected representatives for answers. We are not involved in any of the processes in regards to how areas are even looked at. In regards to Sinn Féin we are in total opposition to underground Geological Disposal Facilities in our council area or indeed anywhere on the island of Ireland."

"The government talk about a consent based process. I can assure you there is no community consent for such a facility to be coming into our island."

Councillor Glynn Hanna said "To make it clear, myself or our groupings would not be supportive of any nuclear waste dumps or anything of that similar nature should it be nuclear or any toxic waste of extremely strong chemicals in our area at all. Over the last 40/50/60 years the South Down coast has been one of the most exposed coasts to any possible nuclear incidents that would have taken place."

"The community does not want to be exposed to this. We in the DUP grouping will not be supporting it. There is a lot of outrage and if this did go ahead, it would expose generations in the future to these possible contaminations, should it be in the water or whatever."

Cllr Jill Macauley "Just to confer with the other speakers, the Ulster Unionist Party, we were contacted over the weekend by residents sharing their deep concern about this. Certainly as a party group we would not be welcoming any Geographical Disposal Facilities in this area or Northern Ireland at all."

Cllr Cadogan Enright "For decades both our legacy councils were members of the nuclear free councils association indeed as is this council as well.

"It really speaks to the extraordinary overhanded and quite ignorant treatment of the people of Northern Ireland that a Westminster based body would be looking at our area, a nuclear free area to dump this nuclear waste. It's absolutely unacceptable to us in the independent group but it speaks to the sheer ineptitude of the current government"

Cllr Henry Reilly said that he didn't want the waste in the area but though it should be up to other areas to decide for themselves  "I would be opposed to one of these massive dumps in our area but I think we have to remember that the Island of Ireland generates massive amounts of radioactive material through industrial X Rays, through cancer treatments, for radioactive isotopes, through X Rays themselves, so that stuff has to be buried somewhere, those things have a half life of 200,000 years or whatever and you can't just wish them away."

Cllr Reilly continued "I know our stuff from all of Ireland goes mostly to Scotland. At some stage we are going to have to start looking after whatever we generate here ourselves or unless the UK and ROI get together and do an agreement with the Americans or some of those people who are building massive facilities underground over there.

"Then again is it fair to dump our stuff on the Americans. We have to always be mindful of the fact that we have benefited from these things through medical treatments and whatever.

"The nuclear stuff from the military, it's nearly all re-processed at Sellafield, so we're not talking about that, we're talking about everyday use of the beneficial aspects of radiation though while I don't want them here if there is somewhere else in Northern Ireland that did want something like that we shouldn't be discouraging people. If some community says, 'right we want that' then it should be up to them."

The motion was carried unanimously.

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