THE Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is being urged to show its commitment to building a national nuclear archive in Wick by applying for planning permission.
Dounreay Stakeholder Group vice-chairman David Flear stressed the public needed to have confidence the project will go ahead and said that it could be achieved by the organisation making an application to the Highland Council.
He spoke out at the DSG meeting on Wednesday night when members heard the archiving process has been completed.
Mr Flear, a former landward councillor, has been campaigning for the development to go ahead since 2005 and said that if the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is serious about the project it should be applying for planning permission.
"As part of the process moving forward, I think that the NDA should now be applying for planning permission to the Highland Council for land to build this site," he said.
"I was at the public consultation held in Wick last year when 80 people turned up to hear about the plans for the building and to see the designs.
"Also, from a Highland Council position, we need to know if the land that has been earmarked for the development is still available.
"I am confident that everything is in place for the project to go ahead, but I think that this is the one thing that needs to be done to make sure there are no more delays and show the public the NDA’s commitment to the project actually happening."
Last September, the NDA held a public consultation at the Norseman Hotel when it invited members of the public to see plans of the proposed building which could be built near Wick Airport. As well as housing the archives, the plans also showed room for a public search area, a meeting room, staff areas, parking and distinctive inner courtyards.
NDA head of programme Nigel Lowe said a lot of issues still have to be considered including who is going to project manage the construction.
He said he did not know the answer to the planning permission situation but pledged to look into the matter and report back to the DSG.
He said the NDA has now completed its record management strategy for all civil nuclear sites, which has taken seven years, and now its plans have to be approved by its internal board before further action can be taken.
"It has been a considerable amount of work that has been done, but what it has confirmed is the need for a national nuclear archive," he said. "In line with previous commitments, we are planning to build it in Wick but now have to prepare the business case which has to go to the NDA executive board.
"Now we know the volume of information that has to be archived and the design work for the building that has to be done, we have the final figure and we have to take that through the business case process.
"That will take over six months before a final decision will be made. In parallel, an application has been made to the European Regional Development Fund and we will learn in a month’s time whether they have accepted the next stage of the application.
"A lot has happened recently as we have the strategy completed, the costings are through and the business case will be put to the internal board.
"It doesn’t mean that it is a done deal, but we are prepared for the next stage."