The Sham that is “Localism”

It would seem that this last week has been another good time to bury bad news.

What with the situations in the Ukraine and in Gaza, the air crash in the Sahara and the more jolly stuff from the Glasgow games the fact that the government put out more details about its plans for underground nuclear waste storage hardly got a look in in the news. Apparently sums in the millions will be offered to communities that offer to host nuclear waste storage and when (sorry – if) no communities are stupid enough (sorry – community spirited enough) to offer themselves up then government ministers will allocate sites and the normal local planning rules will no longer apply and local authorities will not have a veto.

What with HS2, fracking and nuclear waste it is clear that localism only applies if it generates the decisions that central government wants like a brake on renewables development because it doesn’t suit the government’s friends in big business if little firms can go setting up wind turbines or solar farms producing real competition for struggling fossil fuels and demanding that government do something about our creaking national grid. So given that the government knows that no communities are going to volunteer to take on nuclear waste, where will the axe fall? Well let’s face it Dorset in general got to be a contender. It’s got sea transport links, low population density and rolling chalk hills that would be easy to burrow into to make the vast caverns for the storage of bulky low grade radioactive material. Additionally it is conveniently at the opposite end of the country to the existing facility at Sellafield minimising waste miles if the job is split between Dorset and Sellafield such that Dorset copes with the stuff from the South Coast reactors. What’s more it has no come back at all when it is pointed out that Dorset isn’t pulling its weight in decarbonising the economy so It’s their turn. Even better there is a specific site that would be ideal that is already government controlled with a village to give its name to the site that hasn’t even got any residents to complain – Tyneham.

If Scotland votes for independence a reduced UK may well not continue to support a fleet of main battle tanks. We no longer have the capacity to build them and we didn’t send Challenger to Afghanistan because it would have cost too much. Without Challenger the Lulworth ranges could be redundant and Povington Hill could be hollowed out for the purpose.

I’m heartily sick of hearing opponents of wind turbines and solar farms telling me that nuclear is the answer. Not only do I know it isn’t because of technical reasons that I may cover at another time but also because I believe that the only reason that they are saying it is because they envisage everything to do with the nuclear industry being in someone else’s back yard not in their beloved Dorset! Well here’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is. Start a petition to get nuclear waste under the Purbecks. It certainly won’t have the visual impact of a decent number of wind turbines. You’ll probably get lots of signatures but not from many people in Dorset I suspect! Alternatively we could take a leaf out of the book of the people of Delabole. Not enough people know that one of the reasons Delabole is the site of the very first wind farm in England is that it was proposed as a site of a nuclear power station and local people wanted to have a constructive counter argument to show that they were doing their bit rather than just NIMBY!