Greenpeace won a hard- hitting ruling from Mr Justice Sullivan that the consultation exercise which preceded the decision made last July was “procedurally unfair” and in some respects “not merely inadequate but also misleading”.
The government was later accused of being “fundamentally deceitful” after the judge said the consultation document contained no actual proposals on how to deal with two key issues and, even if it had, the information given to Greenpeace and other consultees was “wholly insufficient for them to make an intelligent response”.
Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling was given permission to appeal, although he said “it might be better just to consult again on the nuclear issue”.
He denied the original consultation was seriously flawed, but told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One: “The thing that concerns me more than anything else is that we are in a race against time here.
“Climate change is a major problem for us, we cannot become overly dependent on oil and gas for generating our energy.
“That is why the government believed that nuclear ought to play a part in that energy mix,” he said.
“Clearly the best thing to do now is to accept the judge’s verdict, to learn from what went wrong, to put it right and consult properly, to make sure we can get the process back on track.”
Greenpeace accused the government of reneging on its promise to carry out “the fullest consultation” before making a decision on the development of new nuclear power plants.
The judge upheld its complaint that the Government failed to present clear proposals and information on two crucial issues – disposal of radioactive waste and the financial costs of new build.