Sizewell C: Councillor rejects conduct claim over nuclear power station plans

Former director of Greenpeace Pete Wilkinson outside the SIzewell nuclear power stations

Former director of Greenpeace Pete Wilkinson outside the SIzewell nuclear power stations

A senior county councillor has rejected a claim from a leading opponent of plans for a third nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast that he and his colleagues might be in breach of the local government code of conduct over a decision to support the project.

Guy McGregor, chairman of a joint Suffolk county and Suffolk Coastal district committee dealing with the Sizewell C project, said there was no evidence that the claim – by Pete Wilkinson, a Suffolk-based environment consultant and former director of Friends of the Earth – was justified.

Mr Wilkinson submitted a Freedom of Information request to the county council last month calling for details of the consultations carried out before the local authority decided to back the principle of Sizewell C.

The response, recently received, pointed to the consideration of reports which included the Government’s own study: The Role of Nuclear Power in a Low-carbon Economy.

Mr Wilkinson said it was clear from the response that the county council had not considered it appropriate or necessary to undertake a public consultation.

“This is from a council which has slavishly supported a disastrous energy policy peddled by its political masters in Whitehall while supposedly representing the views of the people of Suffolk, whom it has never consulted,” he said. “The entire programme is a sham and an insult to democratic processes and potentially puts councillors in breach of their code of conduct.”

However, Mr McGregor said he and other county councillors had attended parish council and other meetings throughout east Suffolk where Sizewell C had been discussed.

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“The opinion I and others formed was that people recognised the need for atomic energy as part of the mix,” he said. “The Government had determined its policy towards nuclear and had identified potential sites and our function was – and remains – to get the best deal we can for east Suffolk.”

Mr McGregor said those people holding contrary views had every opportunity to put forward their opinions and ask questions.

County councillors were closely monitored over their duty to observe a code of conduct and no concerns had been raised over the decision-making process in respect of Sizewell C.