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Friday, 7 December, 2001, 12:23 GMT
Green groups lose Sellafield appeal
Sellafield's Mox plant, Sellafield
The plant will mix plutonium with uranium oxide
Campaigners fighting to block the opening of a controversial nuclear reprocessing plant in the north of England have lost their latest legal battle.

Three Court of Appeal judges rejected an appeal over a High Court ruling that the UK Government had made "no error of law" in giving the go-ahead for the mixed plutonium and uranium oxide (Mox) plant at Sellafield in Cumbria.

Environmental groups Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, who brought the action, argued that the health and environment ministers took a "distorted" view when they decided the introduction of Mox was "economically justified" under European Union law.

Protest, BBC
Sellafield has been the target of protesters
They fear the Sellafield scheme could lead to pollution and could also become a target for terrorists or those wishing to steal nuclear materials.

But Lord Justices Brown, Waller and Dyson unanimously dismissed the appeal.

Although disappointed, campaigners still claimed a partial victory over the government.

In a statement, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace said: "The Court of Appeal's decision means that in future, before any new nuclear project can go ahead, the construction and other capital costs will have to be taken into account when deciding if the practice is economically beneficial."

The appeal court judgement follows a ruling against the Irish Government's own efforts to block the expansion plans for the nuclear plant.

Further challenge

The United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg rejected arguments that the 470m development, on the Cumbrian coast opposite Ireland, broke international laws on sea pollution and posed safety and security concerns.

Dublin wanted Britain to be ordered to suspend Mox operations until an international arbitration tribunal was established to resolve the dispute.

The tribunal ruled the provisional measures requested by Ireland were not necessary but did order Britain and Ireland to start consultations to exchange information on the possible pollution consequences.

They were told to "devise, as appropriate, measures to prevent pollution of the marine environment which might result from the operation of the Mox plant".

The Norwegian Government is also understood to be considering legal action over the issue.

Campaigners argue that sea pollution from Sellafield is the cause of above average cancer rates in some parts of the east of Ireland.

British Nuclear Fuels PLC welcomed the latest ruling on Mox production, saying in a statement: "This is excellent news for the plant, the work force and the local community."

Nuclear power
Should Sellafield be shut down?
See also:

23 Nov 01 | England
Protesters target Sellafield
08 Nov 01 | UK
Q&A: Sellafield's Mox plant
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