Report endorsed by MPs from four parties says that governments misled Parliament to win support for new nuclear power stations
Ministers misled parliament over the need to build a new fleet of nuclear power stations, distorting evidence and presenting to MPs a false summary of the analysis they had commissioned, a group of MPs and experts alleged in a report published on Tuesday. [PDF]
If MPs had been presented with an accurate picture of the evidence for and against new reactors, the government’s plans might have been challenged, according to the report. Both the previous Labour government and the current coalition overstated the evidence that new nuclear power was needed, it also alleged.
Building new nuclear power stations is highly controversial, as polls consistently show a substantial minority opposing them. But many people, including some environmental campaigners, have been persuaded towards supporting nuclear by the argument that they would help the UK generate power without carbon dioxide emissions.
The previous government cited its own research in order to make that case, but according to today’s report, some of the findings were misrepresented when relayed to MPs by ministers. For instance, the report found that rather than assess the requirement for new nuclear power stations and then work out how many would be needed, the government commissioned research that took as its central assumption that 10 new reactors would be built and then presented its research as evidence of the need for 10 reactors.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said: “We are confident that the Energy National Policy Statements [which set out the government’s arguments that new nuclear power was needed] are robust documents which took account of all relevant factors.”
The report suggested that the current government’s repeated assertion that electricity demand was likely to double was based on taking some of the highest estimates from its research rather than the average. The author, Ron Bailey, who has written against nuclear power, also accused ministers of ignoring key findings of the research they had commissioned that showed ways in which the UK could do without new nuclear power.