Greenpeace and renewable energy provider Ecotricity have begun legal action to stop the Government’s £650 million bailout of the private nuclear generator British Energy and get the money repaid to the British taxpayer.
The European Commission has confirmed that the loan was made without its approval, which Greenpeace and Ecotricity say is a clear breach by the UK Government of the law governing state aid.
The Belgian Government is said to have recently made a formal complaint to EC about the bailout. Several power companies are also reported to have complained to the Commission.
Ecotricity and Greenpeace have asked the High Court for a judicial review of the decision by Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to provide state aid to the nuclear company without EC approval.
On 26th September 2002, the DTI announced it had extended British Energy’s loan term and increased the aid package from £410 million to £650 million.
‘We are going to court to get this handout paid back to the public purse,’ said Greenpeace nuclear campaigner, Rick Le Coyte ‘It’s time for the Government to stop doling out taxpayers money to a company that pollutes our country and threatens public safety and sensibly invest it in the increasingly profitable renewable sector.’
A recent MORI poll showed that 72 per cent of respondents favoured renewable energy over nuclear generation. Energy consultants AEA Technology demonstrated in a report in July that offshore wind farms off the coast of East Anglia would generate the same amount of power as the entire UK’s nuclear sector.