Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 2 Nov 1993

Vol. 435 No. 3

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station.

Trevor Sargent


6 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications if the Irish Government has made a submission in connection with the consultation exercise on the Sizewell B Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) in Suffolk, England; and if so, if the text of the submission is available to the public.

The Sizewell B nuclear power station in Suffolk in south-eastern England, recently completed, has already been the subject of the longest public inquiry in the United Kingdom, lasting 340 days. On 12 March 1987, following consideration of the report of the public inquiry, the then UK Secretary of State for Energy gave his consent to the application to construct Sizewell B. At that time our Government formally protested at the plans to proceed with the construction of the plant at Sizewell.

The consultation process referred to by the Deputy related to authorisations which would set limits and controls on radioactive discharges from the plant, particularly liquid waste discharges into the North Sea. The UK Radioactive Substances Act, 1960, requires that before the UK authorities grant such authorisations they should formally seek the views of local authorities and statutory consultees. Our Department was not formally consulted in this instance.

The UK authorities are in no doubt as to the Irish Government's position on nuclear energy matters. Our recent formal submission on THORP set out our general rejection of the nuclear option in the strongest terms.

Am I correct that we did not offer any opinion on the Sizewell B consultation, whereas our submission on THORP — to give credit where it is due — was very good? I detect a certain double standard here. Will the Minister say whether there was an observer present at the public inquiry in the United Kingdom on behalf of the Irish Government and whether any report was brought back to the Irish Government following that inquiry? Was any information relating to our involvement made available to the public so that we might observe some consistency in our Government's position regarding nuclear power rather then simple, broad platitudes of opposition?

Deputy Sargent should be fully aware, since I have answered questions tabled by him in this House on a number of occasions over the past year, that the Government is absolutely opposed to all these installations in the United Kingdom. We have made that quite clear in various submissions, consultations and fora. That will continue to be our position. Our officials are monitoring it very carefully and the Minister has made excellent submissions. Both the Minister and I have utilised our position at every opportunity to put the Irish case.

Since I am not authorising any of these installations, it is of no consequence whether I know of them or not.

A question, please, Deputy.

Can the Minister say whether we had a direct input by way of submission or had an observer present in relation to Sizewell B or whether we ignored it, perhaps for political reasons, since it was not located in or around the Irish Sea? I hear that, in spite of everything, we had no input into the Sizewell B consultations. Is that correct?

That is not true. We have continuously opposed both installations, which are a cause of major controversy, and will continue to do so. This Government and its predecessors in office have opposed these installations at every opportunity. Deputy Sargent is endeavouring to give the impression that we are opposed to one installation only. That is not true. We are totally opposed to them all and have made our position quite clear. That will continue to be our internationally recognised position.

Hear, hear. That is right.

(Limerick East): Will the Minister answer a direct question? Has he raised this at ministerial Council level within the EC?

This matter has been raised, but not by me personally.

(Limerick East): Has the Minister of State taken any personal interest in it?

I have certain functions to carry out. Of course I have taken a personal interest in it.

A question has been asked; let us listen to the Minister's reply.

This matter has been raised by our predecessors, by me and by my colleague. We will continue to raise it.

(Limerick East): Deputy Molloy raised it. The Minister of State did not.

I was not there to do it. The Minister, Deputy Cowen, did so on a number of occasions very successfully.

(Limerick East): That is why it is going ahead.

Let us be clear about the facts.