Harrison Grant questions nuclear consultation for Greenpeace

Greenpeace has turned to environmental boutique Harrison Grant as it considers legal action to overturn the Government’s consultation on nuclear power.

The firm, on behalf of Greenpeace, has written to the Government, calling its consultation techniques “a complete charade”.

The current consultation, which was launched after an earlier High Court victory by Greenpeace, ruled that the Government’s first consultation on nuclear power was “seriously flawed” and “procedurally unfair” (www.thelawyer.com, 15 February).

The ruling delayed the Government’s energy white paper and forced it to begin a fresh nuclear consultation on 23 May. The present consultation, which has so far surveyed more than 900 people, concludes on 10 October.

Greenpeace’s new complaint concerns the techniques used by polling company Opinion Leader Research.

The environmental pressure group claims that survey questions were “not of appropriate quality” and that “positive messages” for nuclear power were “presented as statements of fact”.

The group goes on to claim that respondents “were not able to answer the questions in a way that reflected the view they wanted to express” and that “respondents were led towards a particular answer”.

Greenpeace has also submitted a formal complaint to UK polling industry regulator the Market Research Standards Council against the consultation, which it boycotted after earlier branding it “a sham and a fraud”.

John Sauven, Greenpeace executive director, said the “so-called consultation” on nuclear power is a complete charade designed to push through the Prime Minister’s preordained policy on nuclear power.

Sauven said: “When Brown became PM he said he wanted a new and different kind of conversation with the public. It’s now clear that this self-styled conversation consists of a bullying monologue based on shockingly skewed information.”

If a second legal challenge is successful it could force the Government into launching a third consultation on nuclear power or derail its plans for nuclear newbuild completely.

Kate Harrison of Harrison Grant is advising Greenpeace. No counsel has been instructed as yet.