South West England - Subregion 1

National Geological Screening for a GDF - South West England region

The screening report hosted on this site is a technical exercise across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. No specific location in England, Wales or Northern Ireland has been identified as a potential GDF site. Any future decision on geological disposal would be subject to community agreement and planning and environmental consents.


Our work shows that we may find a suitable geological setting for a GDF in most of this subregion.

South West England - Subregion 1

Given that most of this subregion is the inshore area which extends to 20km from the coast, rock can only be seen at the surface at a few locations including man-made excavations such as quarries or road cuttings in the onshore part of the subregion east of Kilve. A small number of boreholes and geophysical investigations give us an understanding of the geology at depth.

There are various types of gaps in our understanding of geology and we deal with these gaps in a number of ways.

There are clay-rich rock layers under most of the subregion in which we may be able to site a GDF. There are also layers of rock salt under the northern half of the subregion and slates and similar strong rocks under some of the southern edge 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.

There are no known coal, oil, gas or metal resources in this subregion which means that it is unlikely that future generations may disturb a facility.

The onshore area to the north-west of Bridgwater has Petroleum Exploration and 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.

For further information, read the report below.

South West England Subregion 1

We have also produced a summary of the geological attributes of the South West England Region.

Go to National Geological Screening for a GDF

Go to geological disposal homepage

Published 19 December 2018