Local campaign groups have given a damning verdict on Government engagement with local communities over its plans for new nuclear power stations and have called for a new round of consultations to take place.
The groups, representing residents in ten of the communities earmarked by the Government as potential sites for new reactors, gave evidence to MPs from the Energy and Climate Change Committee earlier this week.
Jim Duffy, from campaign group Stop Hinkley, told MPs that the timing, advertising and location of the consultations had been unacceptable.
‘DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change) really didn’t seem to want to involve the local people. It seemed to be an accident if you happened to attend. The Government announcement on this came out on November 9th and the meeting was scheduled for 19th November,’ he said.
Out of the blue
Jenny Hawke, from the Residents of Braystone group, told MPs that the news that her area had been listed as a potential site ‘came out of the blue and was a complete shock.’ She said residents had received just ten days notice about the consultation, during which time it emerged that work had already begun on the site.
‘By the time we got to that meeting we found that RWE had already purchased an option to buy the necessary farm land and had already undertaken exploratory drilling on the farms,’ she said.
‘I believe now that this consultation process is a total failure and falls far short of the Government's own statements on public engagement. The short duration of the consultation on one of the most significant and complex planning decisions to be made this century renders the whole approach unacceptable and open to legal challenge,’ said Hawke.
Peter Lanyon, of the Shutdown Sizewell campaign, called the DECC consultation ‘farcical’ and told MPs that residents in his community thought that the nuclear plan was a ‘done deal.’
‘Public consultations under the Aarhus convention are supposed to be a formative stage where there is still the possibility of changing things.’
‘The stuff that DECC are coming to down to exhibit and meet us about will just be a whitewash,’ he said.
Energy and Climate Change Committee