Greenpeace defeats government on nuclear power

A High Court judge has ruled against the government and in favour of environmental group Greenpeace in a row over new nuclear power stations.

High Court judge Jeremy Sullivan ruled that the government’s consultation process ahead of making a decision on new nuclear plants last year was “seriously flawed” and “procedurally unfair”.

Greenpeace argued ministers had gone back on promises to carry out “the fullest public consultation” before backing proposed new power stations.

The environmental group said the government did not present clear proposals or information on key issues surrounding a new nuclear power stations – including disposal of radioactive waste and the financial costs of building them.

Mr Justice Sullivan today agreed with Greenpeace, granting the group an order quashing the government decision as “unlawful”, adding that “something has gone clearly and radically wrong” with the consultation exercise.

In response the government said it planned to consult further, but would go ahead with an energy white paper containing more details of its proposals for new nuclear power stations.

“We continue to believe nuclear power has a role to play in cutting emissions and helping to give this country the energy security it needs,” the Department of Trade and Industry said in a statement.

“I quite accept the judge’s verdict so we’ll do the consultation again, we’ll do it in the way he suggests,” trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling told BBC News 24.

“But what is important is that by the end of this year we do actually have some firm decisions. Because every year that goes on that we continue to pump carbon into the atmosphere then we are needlessly damaging the environment,” he added.

The judge’s decision delighted opposition parties and environmental groups.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne commented: “This great result means the government will have to consult properly about the full implications of a new generation of nuclear reactors.

“The full economic and environmental costs, as well as the security risk, need to be taken into account.”

Sarah North, head of Greenpeace’s nuclear campaign, said: “The government’s so-called consultation on nuclear power was obviously a sham, and we’re pleased that the judge has agreed with us.

“The government completely failed to consult adequately and even kept relevant documents to themselves. They’ve now been forced back to the drawing board to conduct a proper and lengthy review.”