A LOCAL authority is attempting to block an energy giant's plan to increase the amount of radioactive waste it can move in and out of its Scottish plants because it fears the area could become a "nuclear dump".

EDF Energy has submitted an application to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) for permission to alter its certificate for the disposal of radioactive waste at its Hunterston B nuclear plant south of Largs in North Ayrshire.

If granted, it would let the firm transfer intermediate-level ­radioactive waste off site, while similar material could be brought in to Hunterston from other EDF nuclear power plants for storage.

A similar application has been made at Torness nuclear power station in East Lothian, which if granted would be likely to see an increase in the amount of nuclear waste transferred by road across the central belt.

But North Ayrshire Council has opposed the Hunterston proposal during a consultation by Sepa. The council has fears over the safety of the plan and says it has no idea how much nuclear waste would be brought into its patch.

While EDF Energy has said the waste would be transferred to and from Torness, the authority has also raised fears that the license change could allow nuclear waste to be brought to the site from any of EDF's seven other UK nuclear power stations or even its 19 nuclear sites in other countries including France.

Councillor Alan Hill, depute leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: "Any time nuclear waste is transported there is bound to be a degree of risk, particularly with the potential for road accidents.

"I'm not a supporter of nuclear power, but it's only reasonable that we deal on site with the waste we have.

"But I'm not in support of bringing more in and on that basis, it's not right to transfer it out either. The bottom line is that we live in one of the most ­beautiful parts of Scotland and we don't want to see Hunterston become a nuclear dump."

The Scottish Government has said that long-term management of higher-activity radioactive waste should be in near-surface facilities, as near as ­possible to the site where the waste is produced. North Ayrshire Council has said the application, if allowed, would go against the national policy.

Pete Roche, an Edinburgh-based energy consultant and a former Government radiation adviser, has backed the council's stance.

He said: "What they want to do is move waste back and forwards between Torness and Hunterston so they can fill up containers that wouldn't fill up quickly enough otherwise.

"It seems to me that it would mean introducing a new risk that they don't need to put up with.

"The community around Hunterston do not want waste brought in from elsewhere, and I think technically, this would allow them to bring waste from areas other than Torness."

The type of waste covered by the application would not be spent nuclear fuel, but intermediate level waste could include items that had been in direct contact with such material.

"It's pretty hazardous stuff they're talking about," Mr Roche added. "There are many different types of intermediate waste and it's not clear what would happen if there was an accident with it, but if it did happen, I certainly wouldn't want to be around the corner."

A spokeswoman for EDF Energy said: "This change is purely a practical one to facilitate more flexible disposals by allowing waste to be collected temporarily at one site before being sent for disposal."

The Sepa consultation on the application ends on Friday next week.