The Labour Party should careful in following Jamie Reed’s local campaigning strategy if they want to retain the Copeland seat in Cumbria containing Sellafield, the giant nuclear waste plant, following his imminent resignation. (“Corbyn critic quits as Labour MP, triggering tight byelection race,“ 22 December, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/21/corbyn-critic-jamie-reed-quits-labour-mp-byelection-copeland).
Despite proclaiming to represent the local nuclear interest in Parliament, his majority has dwindled from 6320 when first elected eleven years ago to 2564 in the 2015 General Election.
As Copeland’s MP he has been a robust propagandist for Sellafield and the driving force behinds the plans by NuGeneration (NuGen) to develop a new nuclear power station on its Moorside site directly adjacent to Sellafield.
But backing Moorside is very politically problematic. For far too long, the people of Cumbria’s prosperity has been far too dependent on all their economic growth being dependent on nuclear: the Sellafield waste complex and nearby Drigg nuclear waste surface storage site.
As local campaign group, Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) recently argued: “NuGen’s less than subtle ploy to boost its case for infrastructure improvements by lumping together Moorside and Sellafield decommissioning, local communities will not fool long suffering local Copeland voters who know to their frustration that pleas to improve West Cumbria’s chronic road and rail infrastructure have fallen on deaf Government and nuclear industry ears for decades.” (/www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988449/nuclear_plundering_of_the_public_purse_the_sellafield_and_moorside_billions.html)
The very notion that the Treasury should ride to the rescue of NuGen’s vested interest in a new-build project that has considerably less than full public support will be anathema to taxpayers, particularly as they witness hospital and community services in West Cumbria – whose survival is in everyone’s interest – being increasingly starved of Government support.Additionally, the local Copeland newspaper The Whitehaven News reported on 6 December that the Moorside new nuclear plant could hamper the Lake District’s world heritage bid. The Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the National Trust have commissioned research which they say shows that short-term economic priorities – such as Moorside - are resulting inappropriate developments in national parks. (http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk/news/New-nuclear-plant-could-hamper-Lake-District-world-heritage-bid-claim-5ebf60e4-e6cb-4da3-bc6a-26f591f0f7f2-d