Cumbria Trust welcomed the 2014 decision to conduct a national geological screening exercise – something which we had been pressing for since our formation a year earlier. At the time it was one of the few positive signs in the 2014 White Paper that DECC had learned lessons from the failure of the MRWS process and was beginning to listen to opinions other than its own. MRWS had illustrated the need for a new approach, since the only area to volunteer was West Cumbria (Allerdale and Copeland), despite the area previously been investigated at great expense and ruled unsuitable. MRWS conducted a geological screening exercise, limited to West Cumbria, as stage 2 of the process. Unfortunately the way this screening exercise was conducted was an example of the dishonesty and lack of transparency which blighted much of the MRWS process. A draft screening report was finalised in July 2010 by the British Geological Survey (BGS). However, it reached a conclusion which was a long way from DECC’s desired outcome, in that it effectively ruled out those parts of the borough of Allerdale which were outside of the National Park. The logical consequence of this, assuming that Allerdale wouldn’t support a GDF within the Lake District, would be for Allerdale to withdraw from the process, leaving only Copeland. Rather than accept and publish this report as planned, a decision was taken behind closed doors to ask the BGS to amend the screening report to produce a version which suited DECC’s plan. This was politics taking precedence over science. Three months later, in October 2010, a new version of the screening report was published, and this time an area of northern Allerdale close to Silloth, large enough for a GDF, was no longer excluded. The draft version was suppressed and all requests to see the draft report were refused. Fortunately, someone within the BGS decided that they could not go along with this behaviour, and leaked the draft report, which is how we discovered the scale of the manipulation which had taken place.
Cumbria Trust 11th Jan 2019 read more »