In a recent article we highlighted the move towards offshore geological disposal. The next search process for a UK GDF has extended the available offshore strip from 5 to 20km. We noted there that it is quite possible that an onshore GDF has simply become undeliverable anywhere in the UK. That article also suggested that given what we know about the unsuitability of Cumbria’s onshore geology, any future search process in Cumbria should be confined to the newly-extended 20km offshore strip of Copeland, within tunnelling distance from Sellafield. In this article we will examine an alternative offshore site in eastern England, under the North Sea off Teesside. The remarkable aspect of this option is that rather than costing £10-20bn to develop, it could potentially be developed at zero cost to UK taxpayers. The key to this is the value of the extracted spoil which significantly exceeds the extraction cost. Any viable commercial mine should have this relationship between mineral value and extraction cost. However we can instantly dismiss the majority of UK commercial mines – the presence of coal is an exclusion criterion for a GDF, since the risk of intrusion into the facility by a future generation is considered too great. In this case there are two mineral resources – a polyhalite seam at around 1500m depth, and a halite (salt) seam at around 1350m.
Cumbria Trust 27th Nov 2016 read more »