Thursday, January 10, 2008
Nuclear power plan faces challenge
January 4, 2008
Greenpeace has raised the prospect of a fresh legal challenge to the Government's energy policy ahead of an expected decision next week to give the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations.
The environmental group, which lodged a successful legal challenge to the energy review last year, said it was ruling nothing out as ministers prepared to announce a long-awaited decision on the expansion of nuclear power.
A group of academics and scientists accused the Government of conducting a second "flawed" consultation into the future of nuclear power, a charge strongly denied by ministers.
The experts said in their report that the five-month consultation was "rushed, undemocratic and failed to properly represent the complexities of the issues involved."
The report accused Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessor Tony Blair of "repeatedly pre-judging" the outcome of the consultation by making statements to Parliament suggesting a decision to build new nuclear power stations had already been taken.
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: "For such senior insiders to be so critical of the consultation process is a deeply troubling commentary on the Government's approach to this issue, and as the report reveals, nuclear power could only reduce the UK's carbon dioxide emissions by 4% by 2025 - too little, too late.
"Our lawyers are looking at this report and will also examine the Government's decision on new nuclear build with great interest. We won't be rushed into a decision, but nothing has been ruled out at this stage."
The Business and Enterprise Department said the Government believed the consultation was an "open, fair and full" process. A spokesman said: "The consultation document published in May set out our preliminary view that it is in the public interest to give energy companies the option of investing in new nuclear power stations.
"We gave people five months to respond, longer than the average three to four month consultation period. We have received 2,700 responses from the extensive consultation, which included public meetings across the UK, a written consultation document and a website.
"Time is pressing. Consulting indefinitely is not an option. We need to make a decision on whether we should continue to get some of our electricity from nuclear, which is a low carbon form of making energy. Decisions need to be made because climate change is accelerating, over the next two decades a significant number of the power stations which currently generate our electricity (including nuclear) will close, our domestic supplies of fuels are running out and the UK is becoming increasingly dependent on imported fossil fuels. We will announce our decision very shortly."