Solway Plain

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A view of the Solway Plain from Longlands Fell

The Solway Plain is a coastal plain in the north-west of Cumberland, and stretching over to the coastlands of Dumfriesshire as far as Annan.[1] It is an area generally lying north and west of Carlisle along the Solway Firth and drained by the rivers Esk and Lyne. This geographic unit is associated with the westernmost part of Hadrian's Wall.[2]

In the Middle Ages, clay houses known as dabbins were commonly built on the Solway Plain.[3]

Protected status

The Solway Coast is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[4] The area has a recognised archaeological heritage. Sites mentioned in Hodgson and Brennand[5] include a possible domestic settlement at Plasketlands, urned cremation cemeteries at Ewanrigg, and a potential pre-Roman phase of occupation at several sites, including Ewanrigg, Wolsty Hall and Boustead Hill. The Moss at Salta has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest since 1954. It has unusual flora for a mire on the Solway Plain, and was also the site where a Bronze Age rapier was discovered.[6]

Proposed nuclear waste facility

In June 2012, it became clear that the Solway Plain between Silloth, Abbeytown and Westnewton has been identified as a potential site for a Geological Disposal Facility for the United Kingdom’s high level nuclear waste. Two other sites have also been identified - Eskdale and the Ennerdale.

The Solway Plain was not named by the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership; rather they referred to the 'Low permeability sedimentary rocks associated with the Mercia Mudstone Group(MMG)'. This was in (publicly available) document 285 of the ‘West Cumbria MRWS’ in a report written by Dr Dearlove, the consultant geologist recruited by the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership.

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