Cumbria Trust was surprised to find that our recent criticism of CoRWM has been challenged by GDFWatch, a website with the publicly stated aim of offering ‘trusted impartial advice’ on matters of geological disposal. GDFWatch was founded by Roy Payne.
Roy was until last year, employed by the NDA to promote and build trust in its subsidiary, Radioactive Waste Management (RWM). That was no small challenge. The history of the government’s attempts to bury nuclear waste has been at best opaque, and at worst, deeply troubling. As recently as 2004, it advocated ‘grooming’ local politicians – “we have to be sure that opinion leaders are carefully recruited and groomed”. That phrase was of course never meant to be seen publicly, but the intention to play on the naivety of local councillors and politicians by deceiving them, was clear.
RWM have improved from their predecessor organisations. They have a publicly stated policy of being open and transparent, and while Cumbria Trust finds that they often fall a long way short of this ambition, there is no doubt that they are more willing to acknowledge and discuss some of the difficulties which they face.
GDFWatch is supposed to be entirely independent of RWM and of government. Cumbria Trust and GDFWatch have some common ground, in that both organisations accept the need for geological disposal as the least bad option to deal with the UK’s inventory of nuclear waste. We do have some reservations about GDFWatch’s true independence though. Its default position seems to be to embrace any government or industry publication, but to treat those from organisations such as Cumbria Trust with a high degree of scepticism.
GDFWatch’s criticism of our letter to CoRWM is a clear example of this. Roy has failed to understand Cumbria Trust’s position, even when the letter provided supporting evidence. One difficulty could be Roy’s lack of technical knowledge, which he acknowledges himself, but in this case the misunderstanding goes well beyond that.
We have provided clear and unambiguous evidence that CoRWM reversed their position on screening out areas of unsuitable geology between June 2017 and October 2018, bringing themselves into line with government policy. It isn’t clear to us why Roy won’t accept this point, suggesting instead that this may be a mere difference in phrasing.
We would point out that if GDFWatch really wants to provide ‘trusted impartial advice’, it should look again at this.