15 February 2007
Nuclear Free Local Authorities Welcome Today's High Court Ruling Against the Government's Nuclear Consultation
Mr Justice Sullivan, sitting in the Royal Courts of Justice, London, today delivered a judgement against Government saying it had acted unfairly in not provided full information to undertake last year's consultation on the case for new nuclear build. Government failed to present full and clear proposals on key issues surrounding a new generation of nuclear power stations such as dealing with radioactive waste and financial costs. The Judge described the consultation as ‘seriously flawed’.
Nuclear Free Local Authorities played a critical role in this outcome in first writing to the Minister of Energy before the Energy Review commenced stating the minimum requirements that the Energy Review would have to exhibit if it was to fulfil the Government's promise of the "fullest consultation". NFLAs stated that this would inevitably require two rounds of consultation. NFLAs were able to obtain Greenpeace's agreement to be co-signatories to the letter. It was specifically the failure of the DTI to address the concerns raised at that stage that paved the way to today’s decision. Welcoming the ruling, Jamie Woolley, lawyer to the Nuclear Free Local Authorities, said:
"This is a very important victory for local authorities in their overall desire to ensure that consultations by Govenment are meaningful, properly conducted and instituted with an open mind. In this instance, Government failed to honour its promise of the fullest consultation about nuclear energy and jumped to conclusions they were not entitled to. It is remarkable that for such a controversial and potentially hazardous technology, the DTI were prepared to cut corners in the way they have. Everything about the speed with which they are trying to drive the nuclear option forward suggests that this will not be the only fence they fall at. NFLAs intend to play a comprehensive role in ensuring that local authorites and their citizens are properly consulted and involved in all aspects of decision-making relating to any proposed nuclear new build"
Government will now have to rectify the defects in its consultation last year. Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, has already pledged to undertake further consultation but has also pledged to press on with publication of an Energy White Paper setting out the support Government will give to new nuclear build.
Jamie Woolley commented: "Insincerity was the hallmark of last year’s consultation and it will be the hallmark of any further consultation for so long as the Government says that its mind is made up on the need for new nuclear stations."