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Government's Nuclear Plans Declared Unlawful by High Court

Greenpeace logoThe government's decision to back a new fleet of nuclear power stations was declared to be unlawful in the High Court.

The government will have to conduct a new, fuller review if they want to justify the future of nuclear power in the UK.

In the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Justice Sullivan agreed with Greenpeace, who brought the case, that the energy review was not the 'fullest public consultation' the government had committed itself to before making a decision to back new nuclear power stations. The commitment had been made in the earlier energy white paper in 2003.

Mr Justice Sullivan said that the consultation exercise was "seriously flawed and that the process was manifestly inadequate and unfair" because insufficient information had been made available by the Government for consultees to make an "intelligent response".

The court had heard last week that the government failed to present clear proposals and information on key issues surrounding a new generation of nuclear power stations, such as dealing with radioactive waste and financial costs. Greenpeace and other groups were also denied the opportunity to comment on relevant documents which the government failed to disclose.

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.

"Nuclear power is a dangerous distraction from the real solutions to climate change as it only represents 3.6 per cent of our total energy. It's entirely obvious that there are more efficient, effective, safer and cheaper ways than nuclear power to meet our energy needs and cut climate change emissions. 10 new nuclear power stations would only cut C02 emissions by 4 per cent. As well as being too little, it will also be too late. Climate wrecking emissions need to be cut now, not in 20 years."

Why Greenpeace think nuclear power isn't the answer to climate change:

•   10 new nuclear power stations would only cut the UK's C02 emissions by 4 per cent. This would be wiped out by the predicted rise in aircraft emissions alone.

•   New nuclear power is not a relevant or timely response to the immediate need to reduce C02 emissions. Any nuclear new build programme would not see the first reactor come online until around 2018 at the earliest, with the main delivery of the programme not arriving until around 2025-2030. C02 emissions need to be cut years before.

•   Nuclear power's effect on C02 emissions is very small. Although nuclear power currently provides about 20% of our electricity (reactor problems regularly reduce this), it only provides 3.6 per cent of the UK's total energy.

•   Nuclear power stations only marginally address hot water and central heating needs, and don't meet needs for transport at all.

•   There is no safe solution to nuclear waste.

•   There is a much cheaper, better way to meet our energy needs and cut C02 emissions. A decentralised energy system will slash C02 and cost far less than a new generation of nuclear power stations, making maximum use of combined heat and power and renewable energy.

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Posted 22/02/07


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