New location expresses interest in hosting UK repository

26 January 2024

A Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) Working Group has been formed in South Holderness, East Riding of Yorkshire, UK, to begin engagement about whether the area might be suitable for hosting an underground radioactive waste disposal facility. Three other communities are already involved in the GDF siting process.

Withernsea, a seaside resort town and civil parish in Holderness (Image: NWS)

"Establishing a GDF Working Group is simply the starting point for a conversation with a local community and is in no way an indication that a GDF will be built in a particular area," Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) said. "One of the Working Group's tasks will be to engage people across the community to begin to understand the local area and any issues or questions the community might have."

NWS will be a member of the South Holderness GDF Working Group, along with the independent Chair, David Richards, an independent facilitator, Invest East Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and members of the community.

The Working Group's role is to open up engagement with the community, begin the work to understand the local area and identify an initial search area for further consideration. The group will also identify initial members for a GDF Community Partnership, which would take over from the Working Group and be a more enduring vehicle for community engagement and involvement in the siting process, including developing a community vision and distributing community investment funding.

The Working Group will focus its initial engagement in the southern parts of Holderness. The first in a series of community engagement events will start in February.

"The South Holderness GDF Working Group marks the beginning of finding out more about what a GDF is and gives our community an opportunity to share their thoughts about what it means for them," said David Richards, independent Chair of the Working Group. "We want to work with local communities to discuss the potential of a GDF and the establishment of a Community Partnership, which if formed would benefit local good causes through grants of up to GBP1 million (USD1.3 million) per year."

"We are delighted to see the formation of the South Holderness GDF Working Group," said NWS CEO Corhyn Parr. "South Holderness joins three other communities involved in the GDF siting process who are already learning more about this vital project and the benefits and opportunities it could bring, such as the creation of thousands of jobs and opportunities for investment in local infrastructure."

Between late-2021 and mid-2022, four localities formed Community Partnerships interested in hosting a GDF - Allerdale, South Copeland and Mid Copeland in Cumbria in northwest England, and Theddlethorpe in Lincolnshire, in eastern England. However, in September last year, Allerdale was removed from the siting process due to limited suitable geology.

A GDF comprises a network of highly-engineered underground vaults and tunnels built to permanently dispose of higher activity radioactive waste so that no harmful levels of radiation ever reach the surface environment. Countries such as Finland, Sweden, France, Canada and the USA are also pursuing this option.

The UK search for a site is based on the idea of community consent. Finding the right site to build the GDF could take 10-15 years.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News