Headlines: October 10th, 2006



Government proposals for streamlining planning procedures for new nuclear power stations will severely reduce local people’s right to voice their opposition at a public inquiry. This warning comes from countryside campaigners the Campaign to Protect Rural England . The new planning rules propose that the site of a planned nuclear plant will be decided at national level and not be open to discussion at a public inquiry.

The proposed policy framework for new nuclear sites provides for a strategic assessment of potential sites for power stations starting in early 2007. This process will look at the criteria for selecting sites and involve public consultation. Once this assessment has taken place and been consulted on, public inquiries will not be expected to reassess the suitability of the site for a new nuclear plant and should only address local issues.

The CPRE believes that any proposals to weaken the public’s voice in future planning decisions will only intensify concern over nuclear power and other large energy installations, making long-term solutions harder to find. It is concerned that in tackling energy needs, effective spatial planning and public consultation should be seen as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

It is argued that the proposals risk igniting public opposition to new nuclear power stations and if people can’t give their views at a public hearing, public confidence in decision-making may be lost. It is also claimed that they may be open to the challenge of restricting human rights.