The Lake District could become a ‘dumping ground’ for the nuclear industry, environmentalists fear, after the Government failed to rule out Englandâ€™s largest national park to bury radioactive waste.
The problem of where to store nuclear waste has dogged the British Government since the first power stations were built in the 1950s.
At the moment the waste is stored temporarily on site but as the country decommissions the nine power stations currently running, pressure is building to find a permanent solution deep underground.
The Coalition has already said more nuclear power stations can be built on eight sites and wants to have deep geological storage in place by 2040.
To find the best sites, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched a geological survey of West Cumbria, the only county where councils have agreed to store nuclear waste.
Land under the towns of Keswick, Cockermouth and the Wast Water were not ruled out by the British Geological Survey.
The report also includes areas of the Irish Sea, which could raise objections from the Irish government.
Ben Ayliffe, senior energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said the report showed â€œalmost anywhere in the Lake District could become a dump for the UKâ€™s radioactive wasteâ€.
â€œItâ€™s hard to imagine a more tragic legacy to Britainâ€™s nuclear folly than vats of lethal nuclear waste being stored around Keswick or Scafell Pike. Itâ€™s certainly not the sweeping vistas that would have inspired Wordsworth or Coleridge,â€ he said.
â€œAnd dumping this stuff underground is no solution anyway â€“ wherever it is. So we certainly shouldnâ€™t be creating any more nuclear waste. There are much better ways of producing electricity.â€
Charles Hendry, the Minister for Energy, said the report was designed to rule out geologically unsuitable areas and does not show where a facility would eventually be located.
â€œWe must progress implementation of geological disposal, the long-term sustainable solution for dealing with radioactive waste,â€ he said.
â€œTodayâ€™s report, commissioned from the British Geological Survey, is a step forward. The geological disposal facility site selection process is based on voluntarism and partnership and these results do not present any reason why West Cumbria cannot continue to consider whether or not to participate in that process.â€