Energy Review (UK 2006)

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This article is part of a series on the
2005-2006 national debate on nuclear
power in the UK

For more articles on this topic,
see the NuclearSpin website

The conclusions of the 2006 UK Energy Review were published on July 11, 2006.[1]

The review was announced in November 2005 and launched on 23rd January 2006 [2]. It was led by Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks [3].

At the start of the review, a consultation document called Our Energy Challenge was published. According to The Guardian, this "sets out five key questions that the energy review [Wicks] chairs will consider" [4].

Background: Two Years of Coordinated Lobbying

The review was preceded by sustained and intensive lobbying by the nuclear industry, beginning in 2004. In October 2004, British Energy appointed Craig Stevenson, formerly Monsanto's top UK lobbyist, as head of government affairs [5]. And in early 2005, Jon Phillips, who helped BAA promote Heathrow's Terminal 5 and who a former colleague describes as "a bit of a bruiser", joined the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) [6]. The same year, leading journalists were wined and dined by both British Energy and Amec [7].

In August 2005, BNFL paid 'accommodation' costs for Scottish MSPs in the Civil Nuclear Industry Scottish CPG to visit the reprocessing plant at Sellafield. However, the CPG found itself in the spotlight the day before the launch of the review when the Sunday Herald revealed it had failed to register the accommodation as a financial benefit. [8] The CPG's response to the Herald's enquiries was swift - it erased the name of BNFL lobbyist Thomas Docherty from its website [9] [10].

The NDA, which one critic argues has been set up to charge for a job that the British public has already paid for [11], also came under scrutiny for its PR-related activities. Bell Pottinger Public Affairs was revealed by Private Eye magazine to have supplied the organization with profiles of the Commons trade and industry select committee, which oversees it. The profiles focussed on the attitudes of the MPs to nuclear energy - a curious emphasis given that the NDA's remit is to decommission existing nuclear power stations. [12]

For a fuller chronology of the nuclear lobbying leading up to the review, see the UK national debate on nuclear power article.

The review was condemned by green groups as an attempt to overturn the conclusions of the 2003 Energy White Paper, which had recommended an expansion in renewable energy, and improved energy efficiency.

CoRWM: An "Independent" Committee with Nuclear Industry Ties

During the 'national debate' that preceded the publication of the Review's conclusions, nuclear power advocates routinely referred questions about nuclear waste disposal to a report by the Committee for Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), which is due to be published later in July 2006. The report is expected to recommend underground storage for high-level nuclear waste.[13]

However, as revealed by (a sister project of SourceWatch), CoRWM is steeped in connections to the nuclear industry. Its three full-time programme staff are from the nuclear company Amec NNC, which has a vested interest in new nuclear build. The company's website describes itself as "an international nuclear engineering services company" [14].

And two of the committee's members are consultants to Integrated Decision Management, a nuclear industry consultancy that in turn does work for the committee. This seemingly circular arrangement hardly helps CoRWM's claims of independence. [15] [16]

Did Consultants Cook the Submission Books?

In August 2006, The Observer reported that that "key consultants" working on the UK National Energy Review "have strong links to the nuclear industry." AEA Technology, which was formed by the privatization of the Atomic Energy Authority, handled public submissions for the review. Although AEA "has sold most of its nuclear businesses," it still "has a nuclear waste unit, and senior executives and staff have links to the old authority and other parts of the nuclear industry." [17]

"I wondered why [nuclear power] was being pushed and pushed and pushed," remarked British parliamentarian Dai Davies, in response to news of AEA's involvement in the review. Some energy experts who made submissions "said they felt their evidence was underplayed and misrepresented." AEA did publish a summary table, "which showed that nuclear power was the only one [of 15 low-carbon technologies] to get more opposition than support." British energy consultants expressed concern at AEA's role: [18]

David Moorhouse, chief executive of Lloyd's Register, the risk management group which has analysed risks in the energy industry, said he also does not oppose nuclear, but was worried about using a company 'whose livelihoods depended on nuclear up until their sale into the private industry'. He said: 'While AEA may have given this its absolute best and neutral approach, it doesn't smell like that to the average man.'

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