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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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'Promote Cumbria' campaign plan if underground nuclear dump goes ahead

A study has called for a communications campaign to promote Cumbria if it decides to house a new underground nuclear repository.

A series of consultation meetings are currently underway across the county into whether it wants to be considered as a site for the dump for higher-activity radioactive waste.

The West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership commissioned two agencies – Sedley Place and The Communications Group – to look at what could be done to offset any risk of negative perceptions if west Cumbria does take part.

Their findings were revealed at a partnership meeting in Salterbeck, when the consultants said that to maintain Cumbria’s strong reputation they recommended putting in place a ‘phased communications campaign’ to emphasise the area’s strong points.

They said Cumbria and the Lake District had strong brands which benefit the tourism and food industries, as well as other sectors that trade off the area’s reputation.

They suggested setting up a new umbrella organisation which could become a mouthpiece for promoting the county, should plans progress.

Elaine Woodburn, partnership member and leader of Copeland council, said a number of sectors ‘benefited from the strength of the Lake District and Cumbria brands.’

“We are still carrying out an important consultation to find out what the public think about whether west Cumbria should take part in the search for somewhere to put an underground repository for nuclear waste,” she said.

“If the area does take part in that search it is vital we understand being involved in that process might affect the image of the Lake District and Cumbria and what could be done to offset any risk of negative perceptions.

“This is a very useful piece of research which will provide the councils and other organisations with valuable evidence to help ensure we protect these brands if this process continues.”

The researchers looked at examples from abroad, including Sweden, Finland and France, where nuclear facilities had been created, as well as Queensland in Australia where there is significant mining activity.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s fundamental that we understand the issues and potential impacts on all Cumbrian businesses of moving forward in this process.

“This report is very useful in doing so. Should the decision be taken to participate in the search for a repository site, then we will need to work together as partners to address those issues.”

Following the public consultation, and an opinion survey by MORI, the Partnership will report to Allerdale, Copeland and Cumbria county councils on whether to participate with the government plans.

For more information about the partnership and the consultation, which continues until March 23, see www.westcumbriamrws.org.uk

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