UK Nirex -
1995/96 Public Inquiry into the proposed construction
of a 'Rock Characterisation Facility'
(underground Rock Laboratory) at
Longlands Farm near Sellafield, Cumbria

Over a period of 66 days from September 1995 and February 1996 there was a public inquiry at Cleator Moor, Cumbria into an appeal by United Kingdom Nirex Limited, Britains nuclear waste disposal body, against the refusal of Cumbria County Council to grant planning permission for a 'Rock Characterisation Facility' on land at Longlands Farm, Gosforth, Cumbria.

The RCF was intended to demonstrate the practicability of a deep underground radioactive waste repository, which UK Nirex hoped could eventually be located alongside. The site is close to the Atomic Energy Authority's Sellafield works and just outside the Lake District National Park boundary.

The scheme would have involved sinking two 5m diameter shafts to depths of up to 1020m and opening out galleries in the Borrowdale Volcanic Group of rocks from and in which extensive scientific and engineering investigations and experiments would be conducted.

I was appointed Assessor to advise the Inspector, in particular on matters of geology and hydrogeology. The inquiry heard detailed evidence from Nirex, and from many objectors including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Irish government.

Early in 1997 John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, formally rejected the Appeal. More than 10 years of work and several hundred million pounds of research, investigations and planning by Nirex were frustrated and the future of nuclear waste disposal in the UK thrown into confusion. A copy of my report can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.

Colin Knipe's Technical Assessor's Report     pdf format

Chapter A - Basic Criteria for Repository - Geological & Radiological
Chapter B - Site Selection Criteria
Chapter C - Science & Technical Programmes
Chapter D - Model Development
Chapter E - Radiological Protection & Safety Assessment
Chapter F - Further Work Programme & Role of the RCF
Chapter G - Promise of the PRZ

The Inspector's report can be found here:

or here: