Trans-border impacts considered in nuclear power decision

The Court of Appeal has rejected a further challenge launched by An Taisce, the national trust for Ireland, to a decision by the UK government to grant consent for the construction of a nuclear power station in Somerset, concluding that the likely environmental impacts had been properly assessed.

An Taisce claimed that the energy secretary had applied too low a threshold for deciding whether it was necessary that Ireland should be consulted on the likelihood of significant effects on the environment under the European environmental impact directive. It asserted that only the Court of Justice for the European Union could determine what the correct threshold was.

Lord Justice Sullivan stated that the energy secretary was not writing an academic dissertation on the concept of the likelihood of significant effects. An expert report had calculated that the probability of an accident at the reactor was as low as 1 in 10 million years of reactor operation. It was common ground that the probability of a severe nuclear accident was very low, the judge noted. In his opinion it was not necessary for the government to have concluded that there was a zero probability of risk. Rather, the conclusion that there was a very low probability was sufficient to comply with the directive.

An Taisce v The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change & Others

Date: 4 August 2014; Ref: C1/2013/3763


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