Greenpeace Wins Court Ruling Quashing British Government Nuclear Power Decision
LONDON -- Greenpeace on Thursday won a High Court ruling that could force the British government to rethink its decision to build new nuclear power stations.
High Court judge Jeremy Sullivan ruled that the consultation process was flawed and unfair leading up to the government announcement last year that it planned to make nuclear power a key energy source in the coming decades.
"Something has gone clearly and radically wrong" Sullivan said, announcing his ruling.
He granted Greenpeace an order quashing the government decision, calling it unlawful.
The document contained no information of any substance on two crucial issues -- costs and waste disposal, the judge said.
"There could be no proper consultation, let alone the fullest consultation, if the substance of these two issues was not consulted on before a decision was made," Sullivan said.
The judgment, which is subject to appeal, is expected to lead to new public consultation.
Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling had contested the judicial review, arguing the energy review was part of an ongoing process which would ensure full consultation.
"This judgment is about the process of consultation, not the principle of nuclear power. We will of course consult further," a Trade and Industry Department spokesman said on condition of anonymity in line with policy.
Greenpeace had accused the government of reneging on its promise to carry out the fullest consultation before making a decision on building new nuclear power facilities.
"The government should go back to the drawing board, reconsider its nuclear policy and launch a proper debate on the UK's future energy needs," Sarah North, head of Greenpeace's nuclear campaign, said after the judgment.
Prime Minister Tony Blair announced in July that atomic power would allow Britain to go green, arguing that the country can make cuts in its emissions of the pollutants blamed for climate change if it moves away from fossil fuels and includes nuclear power plants in energy plans the next 30-40 years.
Environmentalists criticized Blair for backing new nuclear plants despite safety issues and concerns about waste disposal, stressing that Britain lags behind other European nations in developing renewable energy sources -- such as solar or tidal power.
The government said it wanted to build new nuclear stations to replace aging ones that are scheduled to be decommissioned, adding that any new plants would be built by private companies without government subsidy.
Britain's 23 nuclear power stations supply around 20 percent of the country's electricity. All but one is due to close by 2023.
Source: Associated Press