YOU may be forgiven for thinking Cheshire is the capital of dumping grounds.

There are proposals for three incinerators, three underground gas storage plants and a bio energy plant which has already had the go-ahead.

Now communities are being asked to volunteer themselves to host an underground burial site for radioactive waste.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn set out procedures for choosing sites where radioactive material will be permanently stored, and asked for local communities to volunteer for the project.

He announced that incentives of infrastructure support would be offered as a reward for areas which put themselves forward, while the multi-billion-pound' project will also bring benefits such as hundreds of new, skilled jobs.

Those who are interested in finding out more have been invited to open no-commitment discussions with the government.

It is likely to take several decades before any such facility is operational, but it will provide a lasting and sustainable solution.

The invitation was part of the Government's Managing Radioactive Waste Safely White Paper and follows a consultation in June 2007 about how a community voluntarism and partnership approach to siting a facility could work.

Hilary Benn said: "The issue of how we manage higher activity radioactive waste in the long term has been considered by successive Governments.

"Geological disposal is the internationally preferred approach for managing such waste.

"The Government will be looking to sit down and discuss, with any community that feels it has an interest, both the technical aspects of the safe implementation of a geological disposal facility and the wider social, economic and environment issues involved.""

Critics of the volunteering process have suggested that these measures are bribes' for taking waste which will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.