PLANS to 'dump' nuclear waste in a North East town are being explored, it has been revealed

The proposal, which claims that nuclear waste could be 'dumped' in Hartlepool, has been met with a furious backlash from politicians.

In a letter sent to numerous politicians in the region, including Ben Houchen, the Tees Valley Mayor, and Hartlepool Council leader Shane Moore, Sacha Bedding, the chief executive of the Wharton Trust said he wanted to 'explore whether Hartlepool would be a suitable location for an offshore Geological Disposal Facility (GDF)'.

The Wharton Trust support people to get into employment, promote healthier lifestyles and engage young people in positive activities.

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In the letter, Mr Bedding, said: "Hartlepool is a place which has benefitted hugely from the harnessing of nuclear energy.

"We see the opportunity which a GDF could bring. We have a chance to develop the town in a way in which is, quite frankly, unimaginable without it.

"We are able to exercise our moral responsibility by dealing with the nuclear by-products, we have an opportunity to reimagine our town, to grow our skills base, to secure hundreds of well-paying jobs for generations."

In a statement, Sacha Bedding, said: "The people of Hartlepool, which is highly skilled with experience and heritage in mining, nuclear power and dealing with hazardous waste, have a right to decide, in an informed manner, whether this is an appropriate economic and environmental opportunity for the town.  

"The Wharton Trust, a charity which works to minimise the impact of the low socio-economic opportunities in the town, has been keeping a watching brief on this matter for a number of years and has recently been meeting with a variety of agencies and political parties, the latest being The Labour Group, to bring this conversation to the table, with a view to creating a working group to explore it further.  

"This is a wonderfully democratic process where people are given a voice; the working group would explore the matter in more depth and, should it be agreed, would lead to the creation of a community partnership. That partnership would then take at least another seven to eight years to listen to local people and consider this further. During this time, a minimum of £1m a year would be given to community groups in Hartlepool, simply for having the conversation.  

"After climate change, the long-term strategy of how we deal with spent radioactive fuel – which includes waste from things like radiotherapy and X-rays – is the most pressing environmental issue of our time.

"This is not an issue which can be ‘kicked into the long grass’ to be dealt with by our grandchildren and great grandchildren. There is a moral obligation to find a permanent solution for spent nuclear fuel and, since Hartlepool is already proven in this field and is about to have its nuclear power station decommissioned and with it, a third of our economic footprint, having a sensible, informed and factual conversation about the pros and cons of hosting a GDF makes complete sense.  The opportunity to bring in 750 jobs for over 100 years and billions of pounds of additional investment should be discussed. Politicising this opportunity is actually a great disservice to the people of Hartlepool, who have the right to hear the information and ultimately decide for themselves, whilst benefiting in the process."

The Leader of Hartlepool council, Shane Moore, said: “I want to be absolutely clear with residents that I do not support Radioactive Waste Management’s (RWM) proposal to create a site for the disposal of nuclear waste here in Hartlepool.

“Some people may argue there is nothing to lose from having an initial discussion with RWM, but I am inherently sceptical and unsupportive of this development.

“Since becoming Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, I have worked to do all I can to raise the profile of our Borough and we are making significant strides in putting Hartlepool on the map for all the right reasons.

“I am not prepared to be the Council Leader that started the ball rolling to turn my hometown into the nuclear waste dump of the United Kingdom and – frankly – I don’t care how many pieces of silver are being offered.

“I would much rather put my time and effort into securing a new power station, retaining the jobs we already have in this industry, or attracting new investment by taking advantage of the benefits Freeport status brings and our proximity to the exciting developments around hydrogen that are happening in the wider Tees Valley.

“I know that my view is shared by Jill Mortimer MP and Ben Houchen, the Tees Valley Mayor, and that they have communicated this stance to Government Minsters.”

Mr Houchen said: “This stinks! I want to give Hartlepool Labour the benefit of the doubt. I hope this isn’t an attempted stitch up in secret to bring a highly dangerous nuclear waste dump to Hartlepool. They need to make their position clear immediately as the longer they are silent the more it says about their position. They must disclose details of this meeting, what was discussed and if they decided to support these ridiculous plans.

“For as long as I am mayor, I will fight tooth and nail to not allow our amazing region to become a dumping ground for nuclear waste, I’m told Shane Moore feels the same as I do, so now is the time for him to come out and condemn these plans publicly and commit to not allow any nuclear dumping in the town.

“I’ve already taken steps to speak with Government and have informed them that this is not wanted in Hartlepool and never will be.

“We are making huge strides in Hartlepool and across Teesside and Darlington and the last thing we need as we sell our region to the world is to be known as the dumping ground for the UK’s nuclear waste.”

Jonathan Brash, Deputy Leader of Hartlepool Labour Party, said: "A local community activist asked if he could come to one of our routine meetings to make a presentation, we said yes. 

"We weren't aware what the presentation was about. He spent 10 minutes talking about it. We thanked him for his time.

"We don't support his proposal. I understand he's made that proposal to Ben Houchen, why the mayor is getting so hysterical about politicians hearing proposals is very odd.

"We don't support the proposal and have no intention to support it.

"Hartlepool is a Conservative controlled town - this is bizarre behaviour of the mayor.

"At the end of the day we're supposed to be grown ups.

"He [Mr Houchen] has been contacted by the same people."

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