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Jenny Willott MP

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Jenny Willott

Government Consultation Cannot Cover Up Decision to Go Nuclear

July 30, 2007 5:22 PM

As the Government announces 12 stakeholder events across the UK to consult with the public over new nuclear power stations, Jenny Willott MP accused the Government of trying to cover-up the decision to push ahead with new nuclear power plants.

One of the public stakeholder meetings will be held in Cardiff on 19th September. However, a raft of other moves by the Government imply that a decision has already been made to build new nuclear power plants:

• On 30th May, British Energy announced that talks were well underway with prospective investors in new nuclear power stations.

• On 4th July this year, in response to a PQ from Ming Campbell, Gordon Brown said that the Government have made a decision to continue with nuclear power.

• On 6th July, the Government announced that all four nuclear power plant designs that have been submitted for pre-licensing have passed the Government's eligibility criteria.

Commenting, Jenny said:

"The Government is trying to play the public for fools. These last ditch efforts to consult with the public feel like a box-ticking exercise. All the evidence suggests that the Government has already made up its mind.

"Gordon Brown's gaff in his first ever Prime Minister's Question's is proof enough. Rather than reading out the carefully worded PR line saying that the Government's was open to consultation on nuclear power, he openly said that a decision had already been made.

"What's more, behind the scenes British Energy is holding private talks with prospective investors of new nuclear plants and the Government is pursuing licensing new reactor designs.

"The direction of our energy policy is of national importance. What we decide now will effect generations to come. It is not a decision that should be made behind closed doors.

"I am sure that at the Cardiff meeting in September, the people of Wales will make their views heard. My worry is that the Government isn't really prepared to listen."

Sir Menzies Campbell: When I look at the Prime Minister's door it appears to be more of a trap door than anything else-so there is not much evidence of change there. Will the Government now abandon their headlong rush towards a new generation of nuclear power stations? Will they undertake to tax pollution more than earnings? Finally, will they abolish the unfair and regressive council tax?

The Prime Minister: Surely the events of the past year should make it clear to everyone that we cannot rely on an energy policy that makes us wholly dependent on one or two countries or regions across the world. That is why we have made the decision to continue with nuclear power, and why the security of our energy supply is best safeguarded by building a new generation of nuclear power stations. On the council tax, let me remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he got very little support from the electorate for his policy of local income tax.