Two South East Holderness ward councillors have called for East Riding Council to immediately withdraw from discussions with Nuclear Waste Services about siting a Geological Disposal Facility in the region.
The call by Cllrs Lyn Healing and Sean McMaster was backed by Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart, who had previously campaigned for a referendum that would allow residents to vote on the proposals.
Government agency Nuclear Waste Services, which was given permission by East Riding Council’s inward investment arm to start a “conversation” with residents about building a GDF in the area, has always made it clear that the local authority can withdraw from discussions at any point.
Invest East Yorkshire is listed as an “interested party” on a seven-member working group set up to scope opinion on the proposals.
Mr Stuart said he believed local people must be the ones to decide and, following discussions with Cllrs Healing and McMaster, said he was now supporting their efforts to stop the GDF.
He said: “South Holderness is a special place, and the news that the area was being considered as the site for the UK’s GDF shocked many in our community.
“It is the people of Holderness who should determine what happens in their area and they have made clear their opposition to these plans.
“Now our excellent South East Holderness councillors, Lyn Healing and Sean McMaster, have put a motion to the council recommending that it withdraws our area from the process.
“They have my full support. Lyn and Sean work flat-out on behalf of local people and listen to their views. Our community says ‘No’ and Lyn and Sean have my backing to seek our withdrawal.”
Cllr Lyn Healing said: “Nuclear Waste Services approached East Riding Council for permission to have a conversation with residents regarding a Geological Disposal Facility.
“Our inward investment team agreed these conversations could take place.
“Cabinet or ward councillors did not vote on this. In fact we were unaware at the onset and no votes are required this early on in a conversation.
“As you’ll be aware 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.
“Holderness is a beautiful rural, agricultural area, farming has existed here for hundreds of years and hopefully will continue for hundreds more.
“Tourism is also prevalent to our area and we feel a project of this scale would most certainly have an adverse effect on both.
“Having said that, we have experienced an already creeping industrialisation of the area over the years. wind farms, the biomass plant at Aldbrough, Saltend, an extension at the Easington terminal, and now this.
“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.”
The South Holderness GDF Action campaign group said it was “delighted” that the local councillors and Mr Stuart realised the “strength of feeling in this area” about the proposals.
Spokeswoman Lynn Massey-Davis said: “I’m really proud that we started this group and website and that other people joined in and worked so very hard over such a short period of time to turn the tide of opinion towards considering removing this threat to us all. This is an unprecedented level of community action in such a small place and shows why we are unique and special.
“We are remote and lack the facilities to accommodate a geological disposal of facility. It would’ve seen a massive change, making our rural quiet landscape become a busy industrial one and killing our tourism industry dead and harming, if not ending, the myriad small businesses which depend on it.
“The group will be attending County Hall for the full council meeting on February 21 when the council will vote hopefully for a notice to withdraw the scheme. There will be a lot of us, we will be peaceful but we will let them know very clearly what we want to happen – take this awful burden away from us, please.”
The Gazette has approached East Riding Council for comment.