New energy secretary’s appointment underlines unhealthy relationship between government and nuclear sector

Anti-nuclear campaigners have slammed the decision to appoint Ed Davey as the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary as further evidence of the unhealthily close relationship between the government and the nuclear energy sector.

Campaign group, Kick Nuclear, has learned that Davey’s brother, Henry, is a partner at Herbert Smith, a law firm that has a long-standing relationship with the nuclear giant EDF Energy. Herbert Smith’s website declares that it is, ‘proud to be at the vanguard of next generation nuclear in the UK’.

Kick Nuclear spokesperson, Nancy Birch, said EDF Energy’s official and unofficial influence within government is extremely worrying. She said: ‘Davey’s brother advised EDF on trading contracts relating to the company’s acquisition of British Energy in 2008. Herbert Smith has since worked with EDF to gain development consent for the construction and operation of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Only yesterday Ed Davey made a dramatic U-turn by declaring he is now pro-nuclear. The connection with his brother’s professionals interests is simply too close for comfort.’

It is becoming increasingly clear that the nuclear sector - and EDF Energy in particular – has an excessive influence on the energy agenda both within Whitehall and Westminster. An independent report launched last week by Unlock Democracy and The Association for the Conservation of Energy, claims the government’s own data has been skewed to support the ‘new nuclear’ option. The report concludes: ‘Either it’s a monumental series of mistakes or the ‘nuclear lobby’ has got control of the Whitehall machine.’

Since the last general election, EDF executives have met government ministers on six occasions to discuss energy policy and related issues. Only last June, The Guardian newspaper accused government officials of colluding with nuclear companies, including EDF Energy, to play down the effects of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

Anti-nuclear campaigners’ concerns were also heightened during Gordon Brown’s premiership when it transpired that his brother, Andrew, was head of EDF’s media strategy. Kick Nuclear is now calling for an independent inquiry into the nuclear lobby’s influence on energy policy. Nancy Birch concluded: ‘There is growing evidence that the ‘new nuclear’ option is neither safe nor affordable. It’s time for the public to stand up and say we don’t buy the nuclear greenwash. Germany is showing that we can have a nuclear-free future that is affordable and environmentally sound. New nuclear will take investment away from truly renewable forms of energy and drag us backward into nuclear dependence.’

ENDS

Notes for the editor:

Unlock Democracy and The Association for the Conservation of Energy’s report is called, ‘A Corruption of Governance? How minsters and parliament were misled.’

A mass protest will be held at Hinkley Point nuclear power station on March 10th to mark the first anniversary of the Fukushima disaster.

For more information contact Nancy Birch on 07506-006597