Well, what a day. The result was not entirely unexpected, but it was shocking and shameful none the less.
I won’t dwell too much on what has happened, the time is not for recriminations — however frustrated I and many other West Cumbrians feel with the snollygosters on the County Council.
The debates and votes today were always going to throw up more questions than answers, and over the coming weeks and months we will need to hear responses to those questions.
The one thing that hasn’t changed, and was never going to quickly, is that there is a huge pile of nuclear waste sitting at Sellafield — where it is being managed very safely, I should add.
But West Cumbrians deserve to know what is going to happen to it in the long term. The ridiculous suggestion from Eddie Martin that the government invest in more intermediate stores for it is a none starter, and proves that he either hadn’t grasped or doesn’t care that interim storage isn’t the safest option — despite three years of involvement in the MRWS process. Would those campaigners so fiercely opposed to a GDF be any happier with a host of interim stores anyway?
The pragmatic approach of Copeland and Allerdale Borough Council’s was not unexpected. Elaine Woodburn spoke brilliantly when she said she didn’t know if a GDF was the right thing for West Cumbria, but that as West Cumbria was looking after the waste anyway we owed it to ourselves to find out.
That is the honest position that most of us are in, how can we know?
What happens next will be interesting. It could be argued that Cumbria County Council, in ignoring the views of its own local area committee (who voted on Friday to back moving to stage four) and then ignoring the one Copeland member of their cabinet today, who spoke in favour of moving forward so long as the national park was excluded, no longer have a mandate to speak for West Cumbria.
Indeed, Mark Fryer, at Allerdale said they had effectively declared West Cumbria’s independence by their actions.
Copeland and Allerdale, shamefully, don’t have a great record of working together and delivering. All too often opportunities for West Cumbria have been lost because of personal or political differences.
That must be put to one side. If we are to get a solution from government and the answers we deserve it is more important than ever that the two Boroughs are united in thought, and word and deed.
And the county council elections in May — no doubt a major factor in the thinking of cabinet members today — have also suddenly become a whole lot more interesting.