It now transpires that Her Majesty’s government took part in a public relations campaign to keep the UK public sweet over future nuclear energy plans.
The Guardian obtained internal e-mails via the Freedom of Information Act that shows how closely government officials and industry bodies worked together to prevent the derailing of plans to build new nuclear energy plants.
These e-mails showed that the government business and industry departments BIS and DECC worked with EDF Energy, Areva, Westinghouse and the Nuclear Industry Association to play down the effects of Fukushima and stress the safety of the UK nuclear industry.
One official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name was redacted from the e-mail, wrote ‘This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally. We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear.’
Zac Goldsmith, the conservative MP who is a member of the commons environmental audit committee, said ‘The government has no business doing PR for the industry and it would be appalling if its departments have played down the impact of Fukushima’.
And Greenpeace spokesperson Louise Hutchins said that this looked like ‘scandalous collusion’ between the government and industry.
The e-mails showed how concerned they were over Fukushima being put in the same pigeon hole as Chernobyl. This was despite the event ending up being classified as a level 7 accident. ‘Anti-nuclear people across Europe have wasted no time blurring this all into Chernobyl and the works,’ the official whose name was redacted told Areva. ‘We need to quash any stories trying to compare this to Chernobyl’.
The Guardian report also says that the text of an announcement on 5th April on the impact of the Fukushima incident on the nuclear programme was secretly cleared with nuclear industry representatives. ‘According to one former regulator, who preferred not to be named,’ says the report ‘the degree of collusion was "truly shocking"’
A DECC ‘source’ played down the significance of e-mails from a ‘junior’ official.
Of course this is the only subject over which government and industry have colluded to manipulate public awareness and opinion …… isn’t it?