Supporters of Nuclear Energy

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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

Supporters of Nuclear Energy (SONE) is a British pro-nuclear energy lobby group. On its website, it states that its members "...have one objective: To promote an informed debate about nuclear's place in global energy supply and how it can help power the world's economic development in a sustainable way."[1]

Its secretary is Margaret Thatcher's former press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham.[1]. The organisation has close links with the British Nuclear Energy Society. SONE's business address is the Westminster headquarters of the British Nuclear Energy Society, a body set up to promote nuclear power that is linked to all the main figures in the nuclear industry, from BNFL to British Energy. According to Chris Grimshaw of Corporate Watch (UK), BNES spokesman Ian Andrews was not especially happy to discuss them:

"When asked about SONE and Ingham, Mr Andrews claimed to be busy and quickly ended the interview. He stressed that SONE was 'totally separate', though he did admit that 'we know him [Ingham] very well and meet occasionally'. SONE, which was founded with public money from BNFL, is highly critical of wind power and therefore somewhat out of tune with the new reconciliation with renewables. Embarrassingly the group collects its mail from the BNES' headquarters[2], and 'maybe' uses BNES office space elsewhere."[3]

Recent Pro-Nuclear and Anti-Wind activities of SONE

As you would expect, SONE gives its "principal activity" as that of "promoting nuclear energy."

If anyone is in doubt of the intensive pro-nuclear lobbying that has been going on behind the scenes, a snapshot is given in SONE's latest company report (for the year dated June 2005). In the report the Directors of SONE, Bernard Ingham; William McAlpine; and James Corner outline how "this, the eighth year of SONE's operations, has produced the most intensive effort to secure the development of nuclear power in our short history". The Directors noted that the SONE Committee had "identified 2005 as the most crucial year since we were formed."

The Annual report also lists some of SONE's lobbying activities. "Our plan was to concentrate on lobbying a wide range of opinion formers before the election and then to present the incoming government with a clear case for reopening the need for nuclear power and facilitating its development in the new Parliament."

"Since the last annual meeting the chairman has given some 18 lunches for politicians from the three main parties, journalists, electricity generators and distributors, industrialists and large energy users, trade unions and financiers. Our message on each occcassion has been to emphasise the point that, in recognising that nuclear power should be an important element in the mix of sources of electricity, the Government had much more to do to enable the private sector to carry the policy through."

For SONE, "it is not enough" for the Government to declare a pro-nuclear policy. On top of this, SONE is asking the government to "facilitate the licencing of reactors; identify sites for new nuclear power stations (on existing nulcear compounds); clarify market access, especially in the light of the current system of regulating the wholesale electricity market, and insurance regimes, end discrimination against nuclear power in the form of the climate change levy; and end the manipulation of the planning system to prolong enquiries and the Government's own procrastination over the designation of a site for the longer-term disposal of intermediate and high level nuclear waste." In summary, SONE's message is that the development of nuclear is "as much a political as a commercial decision and required much political input."

Nuclear is the Green Solution

Like the Nuclear Industry Association, SONE is also pushing the line that nuclear is the environmentally sound or "green" solution to the energy crisis and climate change. Its new leaflet is called "Nuclear - the green route to secure and reliable power."[4]

Indebted to Lords

The Directors also say they are "indebted to SONE members in the House of Lords for their vigorous prosecution of the nuclear cause in debates and to many other members who either through lectures, letters to the press, or lobbying, give the public a more balanced view of nuclear power".

With Thanks

SONE admits its new website has been revamped by Sticky New Media, that is also working for the Nuclear Industry Association.

Finally in its Annual report SONE thanks "British Energy, BNFL, the Nuclear Industry Association, the British Nuclear Energy Society and Nuclear Issues for their help and support during the year."[5]

All-Party Parliamentary Group

Keith Parker from the Nuclear Industry Association and a member of SONE's committee, was instrumental in setting up the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear Energy in the Commons, whose inaugural meeting in February 2003. According to SONE "another 50 who were unable to attend pledged their support and interest".

Officers elected were: chairman: Bill Tynan MP for Hamilton South; vice-chairmen: Lord Christopher, Lord Jenkin (a SONE member) and Lord McNally; secretary: David Drew MP for Stroud; and treasurer: Jimmy Hood MP for Clydesdale. The purpose of the group is "to encourage discussion among MPs and peers from across the political spectrum with an interest in nuclear issues and to provide a forum for the exchange of information and views between Parliamentarians and representatives of the nuclear and energy industries."[6]


SONE is also wholeheartedly opposed to wind power, as its letter to the Prime Minister on December 6, 2002 demonstrates: "In the interests of safe, clean, continuously reliable and economic electricity supplies, we believe that the following action is required:

4) end the tokenism in energy policy by recognising that wind power, essentially the only available renewable source of energy apart from hydropower, cannot, even if it were economic, meet the predominant demand for continuous, reliable supplies of electricity;

8) launch a campaign to correct the misrepresentations and distortions about nuclear power which have been perpetrated over a substantial number of years by those whose alleged concern for the environment actually imperils the economy, jobs and the very environment they profess to wish to protect".

This letter was signed by: SONE Secretary: Sir Bernard Ingham, Professor Sir Frederick Holliday, Professor James Lovelock, Dr J Dickson Mabon, Sir William McAlpine Bt, Lord Marsh of Mannington, Lord Parkinson of Carnforth, Lord Tombs of Brailes, Lord Walker of Worcester, and Viscount Weir[7]

Several SONE members have had anti-wind letters published in national newspapers, many without indicating they are members of SONE. Also some Patrons of SONE are also anti-wind conservatives such as Giles Chichester MEP. In a letter to the press in April 2004 he wrote:

"How long will it take until this Government learns and recognises that the solution to future energy needs and the requirement to reduce CO2 emissions is not blowing in the wind? . Analysis of historical wind data has shown that, with wind plant installed capacity of approximately 20% of peak demand, variations in wind generated output that would be beyond the capacity of available generation reserves or back-up capacity could be expected to occur regularly. That means supply interruptions To any clever man from the ministry who may say the death of a few birds is as nothing to the costs of failing to address the implications of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, I would say a virtually CO2 emission-free option is available, which would produce the electricity of 2,000 wind tower aerogenerators of the height of Salisbury Cathedral spire and would do so reliably as base load electricity. It is called nuclear energy."[8]

Officers and patrons of SONE

As of February 11, 2008, these were:

Officers and committee

Former Committee Members


Former Patrons

Contact details

c/o BNES,
7 Great George Street,
London, SW1P 2ZS.
Tel: +44 20 7665 2046
Fax: +44 20 7665 2269
Email: sec AT

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Sir Bernard Ingham, "About SONE", Monday, 26 April 2004.
  2. Suppoerters of Nuclear Energy, "Supporters of Nuclear Energy (SONE)", accessed April 2008.
  3. Chris Grimshaw, "It's Official:No Dark Machiavellian Conspiracy for New Nuclear Power", CorporateWatch (UK), Newsletter Issue 21 December 2004.
  4. SONE, "The Looming Energy Crisis: Nuclear - The green route to secure and reliable power",April 27, 2005.
  5. Report of the Directors and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 30 June 2005 for Supporters of Nuclear Energy Limited (A Company Limited by Guarantee)
  6. SONE, The Energy White paper Edition - SONE Goes Critical", Newsletter No.56, March 2003.
  7. SONE, "Sustainable Development of the Energy Sector and the Nuclear Power", December 6, 2002.
  8. Giles Chichester, "Letter to the Editor, Western Morning News", April 7, 2004.

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