16 April 2024

Councillors to vote on motion to withdraw from GDF talks

East Riding councillors are to vote today on a motion for the authority to withdraw from talks with Nuclear Waste Services on siting a Geological Disposal Facility in the region.

South East Holderness ward councillors Lyn Healing and Sean McMaster – backed by Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart – submitted the motion last week. It asks that the council:

  1. Acknowledges that it has the right of withdrawal at any time, and there will be no cost incurred now or in the future.
  2. Uses its right of withdrawal with immediate effect due to the strong opposition from the communities of South Holderness, as a promise was made to take the views of residents into account as the relevant principal local authority.

Last week, the leader of East Riding Council, Anne Handley, said that, having listened “carefully” to local people, she had decided not to support the plans by NWS. Cllr Steve Gallant, leader of the Labour group on the council, said it would also vote to block the proposals.

Government agency Nuclear Waste Services was given permission last year by East Riding Council’s inward investment arm to start a “conversation” with residents about building a GDF in the area, and Invest East Yorkshire was listed as an “interested party” on a seven-member working group set up to scope opinion on the proposals.

Cllr Lyn Healing said: “NWS has held various drop-in events throughout Holderness to have those conversations with residents and a large number of residents did attend.

“While we found the drop-ins helpful and informative and, I believe, others did too, we came away with mixed feelings. Yes, investment in Holderness is badly required – but is this the right investment? We now believe it isn’t.

“We have listened to our residents too and the majority do not want a GDF in Holderness. We support them in their opposition and that is why ward councillor Sean McMaster and myself will be submitting a motion to the full council on February 21, requesting East Riding Council withdraw from these conversations.

“A vote from all councillors will be needed for this to happen, but we are confident we will have a councillors from all wards supporting us.”

Supporters of the South Holderness GDF Action Group said they would be holding a peaceful protest outside County Hall in Beverley ahead of the full council meeting at 2pm.

Spokeswoman Lynn Massey-Davis said: “South Holderness GDF Action was established quickly to oppose the plans. 30,000 leaflets were delivered by teams of volunteers, and a campaign using social media, imagery, liaison with councillors and elected representatives was begun. A Facebook group with 1,500 local residents blossomed in two weeks. Elected representatives heard our cry and began to take our anguish seriously. Councillors themselves considered whether exercising their right to request a notice to withdraw (allowed for in the legislation) would be the best way to protect the community from further uncertainty.

“Local residents will be present outside County Hall from 12.30pm until the vote by elected members. We hope that a peaceful presence will both support councillors but also indicate the level of feeling in our community.

 “I hope that we have demonstrated that the people of South Holderness have a voice and are prepared to use it if our consent is not gained before the council seeks to develop opportunities which bring no demonstrable benefit to us. I think we’ve all learned a lot from this going forward. Consent is imperative.”

A spokeswoman for Nuclear Waste Services said: “We are aware of the motion being put to East Riding of Yorkshire Council to withdraw from the GDF siting process. Although disappointed this is being tabled when the conversation with the community has only just begun, we fully respect any decision made by the council on Wednesday.

“We welcomed over 1,200 people to our initial post-launch events and would like to thank everyone who has given up their time to speak with us and learn about the GDF programme.”

The full council meeting will be streamed live from 2pm on its YouTube channel.