Secretary of State took account of prospect of severe accident when granting order for nuclear power station


Re: R (An Taisce) v Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change & Ors [2013] EWHC 4161

Application to seek permission to apply for judicial review of a decision on the part of the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to grant a development consent order for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C.

Held: the claimant’s approach was not consistent with the scheme or language of Directive 2011/92/EU, or the Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2009. There was no basis for interpreting Directive 2011/92/EU, art 7 in a different way to that in which art 2 had been understood. The Directive should be interpreted as a whole to give it consistent effect and sensible and comprehensible meaning. There was no material difference between the Espoo Convention, art 3 and Directive 2011/92/EU, art 7. What the Espoo Implementation Committee had said was required by its art 3 was not relevant because the Convention did not provide for the Committee’s decisions to have any normative legal effect. There was a sound, reasoned and rational basis for the Secretary of State to come to his decision. The evidence showed that the Secretary of State did take into account the prospect of a severe accident. There was no reason that precluded the Secretary of State from being able to rely on the existence of a stringently operated regulatory regime for future control. The Secretary of State did ask himself the right question and took reasonable steps to enable himself to answer it correctly. Therefore, the claimant’s case was dismissed.

David Wolfe QC was involved in this case.