National Geological Screening for a GDF - Central England region
Our work shows that we may find a suitable geological setting for a GDF in most of this subregion.
Rock can only be seen at the surface in a few places in the subregion such as Charnwood Forest and in man-made excavations such as quarries or road cuttings. However, deep boreholes and geophysical investigations give us an understanding of the rocks present and their distribution.
There are clay-rich rock layers, in which we may be able to site a GDF, under much of the subregion to the east of Coventry and Leicester. There are also granites and similar strong rocks under much of the central parts of the subregion, in which we may be able to site a GDF. We would need to do more work to find out whether these rocks have suitable properties and thicknesses.
Even where individual clay-rich rock layers are found not to be thick enough to host a GDF they may support the siting of a GDF in deeper rocks as they could act as a barrier to groundwater flow from depth. This is important because movement of groundwater is one of the ways in which radioactive material could be carried back to the surface.
Some of the subregion has been mined for coal to depths below 100m around Coventry, Coalville and Melton Mowbray and there are known oil and gas resources to the north of Melton Mowbray. In these areas the mining and drilling is likely to have affected the way in which water moves through the rock. Also possible exploration in the future in these areas means that it is more likely that future generations may disturb a facility.
Parts of the north of the subregion have Petroleum Exploration & Development Licences to allow companies to explore for oil and gas. This exploration is currently at an early stage and it is not known whether oil or gas in these licence areas will be exploited. RWM will continue to monitor how this exploration programme progresses.
Parts of this area, west of Rugby and near Coalville, are Coal Authority Licence Areas allowing companies to explore for coal. It is not known whether coal in these licence areas will be exploited. RWM will also continue to monitor how this exploration programme progresses.
Parts of the subregion which have been mined for gypsum, near Barrow-upon-Soar, would also need to be taken into account in the siting of a GDF, although the nature of mining in evaporites does not affect the movement of groundwater in the surrounding rocks in the same way as other mining.
For further information, read the report below.
We have also produced a summary of the geological attributes of the Central England Region.