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Nuclear plans dealt blow in the courts

Government plans to raise £30bn of private investment for new nuclear energy were plunged into uncertainty last week when a judge ruled that it must re-consult the public before backing nuclear power.
The decision by Mr Justice Sullivan branded the government's consultation following the 2003 energy white paper as 'seriously flawed' and 'manifestly inadequate'. Any uncertainty over government support for nuclear power will make investment less attractive, experts said.British Energy strategy and business manager Phil Evans said: 'Until there is clarity funding cannot be done. Lots of people are talking informally.'There are some big players in the UK who want to participate in the market - not just for nuclear, but where appropriate. For anyone who wants to invest, there needs to be more certainty. This applies to nuclear as to other forms,' he said.The legal challenge was introduced by Greenpeace and upheld by the judge who found that inadequate information had been made available to the public on proposals for new nuclear and key issues such as handling of nuclear waste.Supporters of Nuclear Energy chairman Sir Bernard Ingham, dismissed the verdict as a delaying tactic. 'It does not look like there will be many consequences,' he said.'There was a considerable consultation, with more than 5,000 replies, including from Greenpeace. It was difficult for Greenpeace to win the argument, so they seek to delay.''If there is a delay, we shall know who to blame when the lights go out,' he said.The government's energy white paper is due to be published in late March. The DTI confirmed that the policy document will still be published, although it is now unclear how it will cover nuclear power. Many expected it would give the green light to new build by simplifying the planning regime.

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