High Court rejects campaigners’ legal challenge to Sellafield MOX plant

Two environmental groups have lost their High Court challenge against the Government's decision to open the Sellafield nuclear fuel plant for commercial production of mixed oxides of plutonium and uranium (MOX).


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Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth had argued that the Government had acted unlawfully when giving British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) the go-ahead for the MOX plant by disregarding the £470 million that it had already cost to build the facility when deciding that it was economically justified under European Union law. “Today’s judgment allows the Government to ignore plant construction costs when deciding whether a nuclear project is justified,” said Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Charles Secrett. “In this land of fantasy economics the Government can fiddle the figures until it gets the result it wants.”

The presiding judge, Mr Justice Collins, ruled that the Government had not acted unlawfully. However, the plant will now need to navigate three further legal challenges, two from the Irish government and one by an Irish MEP.

Naturally, BNFL is satisfied with the decision. “BNFL is pleased that the Court has upheld the Government’s decision that the operation of SMP is justified and lawful,” said the company in a statement. “This is good news for the plant, the workforce and the local community.”

“Our customers have been very patient and we now want to get on with the job of manufacturing MOX fuel for them,” the statement continued.

“While today’s decision is disappointing, our fight to stop the MOX plant from opening is not over,” said Executive Director of Greenpeace UK Stephen Tindale. “BNFL’s order book is virtually empty, the plant poses a substantial risk as a terrorist target and producer of bomb-making materials, and faces three more legal challenges.”

“Tony Blair was right when he highlighted the threats from international terrorism and nuclear proliferation in his speech to the Labour Party Conference,” Tindale added. “It’s time his actions matched his words and his Government stopped allowing activities that will arm the terrorists of tomorrow.”

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