'No record' of UN letter on Hinkley Point nuclear station

The Department of the Environment said it has no record of being written to by a UN committee investigating whether Ireland was properly consulted in Britain’s decision to build a new nuclear power plant.

British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech to workers in the Charge Hall at Hinkley Point B in Somerset.

The UN wrote the letter a week ago, before yesterday’s announcement by Britain that a proposed plant at Hinkley Point in England’s south-west — 240km from the Irish coast — was proceeding.

The department insisted Ireland was involved in consultations about the proposal from 2009.

“Ireland has been actively involved in the consultations process on the proposed new build programme including correspondence at ministerial level outlining issues of concern including effects on the environment and the management of radioactive waste.”

But the United Nations implementation committee questioned whether the Irish public were properly consulted.

In a letter dated Oct 14, the committee asks for copies of notifications received by the Government from Britain about the planned construction, and a copy of the response.

A spokesman for the department said it was not disputing the letter’s existence but there was no record of it and so no response had been prepared.

Tony Lowe of the Friends of the Irish Environment, which asked the UN committee to investigate the matter, welcomed the investigation.

“It looks like it’s too late to influence the plans for Hinkley Point but it should establish the principles contained in the Aarhus Convention that the public have to be consulted.”

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