Nuclear power station decision upheld

A challenge by An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland (NTI), to the decision by the secretary of state for energy and climate change to grant consent for the development of a nuclear power station at Hinckley Point in Somerset (DCS Number 200-000-171) failed after the High Court concluded that the full environmental impact had been taken into account.

The screening decision had been made in April 2012 and had taken into account the information within the environmental statement and the assessment of the risk of accidents. However the NTI claimed that there had been a failure to undertake ‘transboundary consultation’ with the Irish people as required under the European environmental impact directive. In particular, unplanned and accidental effects should have been considered thereby triggering a need for more widespread inter-governmental consultation. However, the British government stated that this was only required in relation to significant environmental effects of which there was a ‘real risk’ or a ‘serious possibility’. It did not apply where there was only a bare possibility of a risk and argued that the office of nuclear regulation had full authority over the licensing and operation of the power station.

Mrs Justice Patterson rejected NTI’s claim that the secretary of state had misdirected himself when interpreting the regulations. The secretary of state had had the benefit of a variety of experts who had provided a sound and reasoned rational basis for concluding that transboundary consultation was not required.

An Taisce v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Ref: CO/5020/2013

Date 20 December 2013

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