Councils could be paid £1 million every year for up to five years just to consider having a facility to store nuclear waste in their area, it has been announced.
If the community accepts exploratory drilling, which would take around five to 15 years, they could get up to £2.5 million a year but the funding would only continue for as long as the community remains engaged in the process.
It is part of the UK Government’s renewed effort to find a permanent solution for nuclear waste.
It follows a consultation on improving the process of finding a suitable site to host a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF), which will isolate radioactive waste typically between 200 metres and 1,000 metres underground inside a suitable rock formation.
Waste is currently stored temporarily at secure nuclear sites across the country but a GDF will enable the disposal of the waste permanently.
The Government plans to work with communities and experts in the next two years to give clarity on the environmental impacts as well as issues such as the planning process, national geological screening and potential jobs and other benefits.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “Geological disposal provides the secure, long-term solution we need to deal with the radioactive waste we have been creating for more than 60 years.
“Building and running a GDF will be a multi-billion pound infrastructure project, which will bring significant economic benefits to a community.”
However, the Government wants to scrap the community veto which allows local politicians to block the plan of having a waste site in their area. It comes after Cumbria County Council rejected a GDF last year.