Greenpeace Flexes Muscles in Battle to Prevent More Nuclear Power Stations

Jan 07 - Western Mail

A fresh legal challenge to a new generation of nuclear power stations is
looming after pressure group Greenpeace said it was considering dragging the
Government back to court. Business Secretary John Hutton is due to announce
a decision on an expansion of nuclear energy tomorrow, but a legal dispute
could set the timetable back.

Greenpeace has already successfully challenged the decision- making process
once, with the High Court forcing Ministers to re- run their public
consultation exercise, describing the original as "seriously flawed".

Although Ministers are likely to argue that new nuclear sites will give
Britain a secure energy supply for decades to come, the policy is likely to
be opposed by several Labour MPs, and there was further criticism last week
from scientists and academics.

Mr Hutton is expected to respond formally to the public consultation with a
statement to MPs tomorrow, with an Energy Bill published within days.

Experts from the nuclear consultation group, which includes academics from
Oxford, Sussex and Lancaster universities, produced an 87-page report into
the decision-making process.

It suggested questions on radiation, nuclear waste and vulnerability to
terrorist attack remained unanswered.

They said the five-month consultation was "rushed, undemocratic and failed
to properly represent the complexities of the issues involved".

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 CO2 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 Assembly Government is also sceptical about the need for new nuclear
power stations - but with major energy decisions reserved to Westminster, it
is powerless to block them.

Ministers in Cardiff Bay nevertheless "strongly support" an extension to the
life of the Wylfa site on Anglesey, due to be decommissioned in 2010.

The site in the constituency of Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones is of
"economic importance", the WAG said.

Lib Dem MP for Cardiff Central Jenny Willott said the latest academic report
showed the Government's policy was in "complete meltdown".

She said, "The Government has now failed twice to consult properly on
nuclear power and to explore all our energy options. This is inexcusable."

Opposition to new nuclear stations runs high amongst Welsh MPs - four Labour
backbenchers signed a motion last year opposing expansion.

The Business and Enterprise Department said the Government believed the
consultation was an "open, fair and full" process. A spokesman said,"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."

(c) 2008 Western Mail.