Nuclear consultation: Irish concerns will be heard

Yesterday’s announcement of a public consultation on the UK’s planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, less than 250km from Rosslare is, to a degree, reassuring but entirely welcome.

It is a victory of sorts for campaigners who worked tirelessly to have Irish voices heard in the process.

Those groups insist our Government should have opened a consultation five years ago as is required under international conventions.

However, this opportunity would not have come about but for consistent pressure from An Taisce and Friends of the Irish Environment.

Their persistence shows again that official Ireland can be less than enthusiastic on these issues.

That is hardly acceptable.

The victory may seem facile as construction is under way at Hinkley, a €23bn project expected to be operational in five years.

The real value of the decision is that it means Irish concerns may influence decisions around the other five nuclear plants in Britain’s planning pipeline.

This recognition will be especially important in post-Brexit Britain as the writ of EU nuclear administrators will no longer prevail.

Because of that, it might be an error to over-estimate how Irish concerns might shape British nuclear policy.

This achievement of course underlines what might be described as our national hypocrisy on these issues — we oppose nuclear power almost as a matter of faith but are only too happy to import energy generated by those plants.

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