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Nuclear Waste Disposal

Volume 978: debated on Monday 4 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish details of the progress made to date of field studies, planning applications or other steps, in each of the areas identified by him in his statement of 24 July 1979 as being suitable for investigation as part of the Government's programme of geological research into methods of nuclear waste disposal; what developments are anticipated in each area during the next six months; and if he will list any new areas or research programmes into methods of nuclear waste disposal decided upon since his statement.

Applications for planning permission to drill exploratory boreholes have so far been made at four sites in the United Kingdom. In Caithness drilling has been completed. Periodic visits to the site will be made to carry out hydrogeological measurements. An application to drill in the Carrick forest was refused by the Kyle and Carrick district council. The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority appealed against the refusal to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has ordered a public inquiry to be held, beginning on 19 February 1980. The UKAEA has also appealed to my right hon. Friend against the refusal by Northumberland county council of two applications to drill in the Chillingham and Usway forests.The geological research programme is to be extended to include study of the properties and structures of further formations. Proposals for surface reconnaissance within four of the areas identified in my right hon. Friend's statement of 24 July 1979 were announced on 17 January 1980, and may be followed by the Natural Environment Research Council submitting planning applications in due course. These areas are central and north-west Somerset; south-east Hereford and Worcester, and north Gloucestershire; north Leicestershire and south Nottinghamshire; and south Gwynedd and north-west Powys.Announcements are expected to be made during the coming months about some or all of the remaining areas identified in my right hon. Friend's statement of 24 July.—[Vol. 971, c. 215–19.]