An Taisce launches legal challenge to UK nuclear station plan

Heritage group commences judicial review proceedings in London over plan to build plant in Bristol channel

An Taisce has launched a legal challenge to the UK government’s decision to grant planning permission for a nuclear power plant in the Bristol channel.

The heritage group said it had commenced judicial review proceedings in London to challenge the legality of UK secretary of state Ed Davey's decision's to grant permission to build and operate a nuclear station at Hinkley Point, 150 miles from the Irish coast.

In legal papers issued to the court yesterday, An Taisce challenges the legal compliance of the decision by the government with the EU’s Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and the UK’s own regulations on transboundary impacts and consultation.

"Despite the nuclear power plant being nearer to the coast of Ireland than it is to Leeds, the UK decided not to consult with the Irish public about the decision before it granted consent in March," An Taisce said in a statement.


“The first time many Irish people learned about the nuclear power plant proposal was when the decision was announced. Their views were not therefore taken into consideration as part of the UK government’s decision and assessment process.”

The UK government gave the green light to build the proposed Hinkley Point C plant in March to the French energy company EDF, which already operatess eight of Britain's nuclear power plants.

The station, which is estimated to cost in region of £14 billion , would have two nuclear reactors capable of producing seven per cent of the UK’s electricity needs, enough to power five million homes.

An Taisce contends that consultation would allow both regional governments and the potentially effected population in Ireland to contribute to the consultation and decision- making process.

It also points to what it describes as the contrasting approach on consultation adopted by other European countries, who have contacted neighbouring countries in relation to their plans to develop nuclear power facilities.

"The UK government decided to grant permission to build and operate a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point without consulting the Irish public or taking into account significant potential risks of the power plant across national boundaries," Rosa Curling from the legal firm Leigh Day, who is representing An Taisce, said.

An Taisce spokesman James Nix said: "This case is not about interfering with the right of the UK authorities to make their own decisions, nor about being pro or anti nuclear."

“It is about ensuring that the rights and interests of the Irish public and their concern for their environment are not excluded from those decisions, and that the Irish public is properly consulted in accordance with the law on a project of this nature,” he said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times