Sunday, February 06, 2011

Avoiding disclosure? National Grid and Wylfa B

Recently the Government has indicated that they are reviewing a decision made by the Information Commissioner and the Tribunal about whether or not water companies need to disclose pollution information to members of the public under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.  These regulations allow the public to access vital environmental information on projects which are likely to affect local people, and which may cause environmental damage in a particular area.  This is of particular interest to North Wales which is going to host the new Wylfa B Nuclear Power station.

National Grid are relying upon the recent Tribunal decision, saying that they have no requirement to provide information under the EIR.  This is rather a surprising decision by them, particularly as they exercise powers of compulsory purchase, and are responsible for providing  electricity grid infrastructure.  National Grid are going to have to provide new grid connections to Anglesey which will either mean submarine cables, or huge electricity pylons marching across swathes of North Wales.  There is supposed to be a "public consultation" on the grid connections required for Wylfa B and the proposed Irish Sea windpower developments.  This was due to happen in Spring of 2011, yet trying to get information about the proposed routes, is proving difficult.  What are National Grid trying to hide, and why are they refusing to comply with the EIR?  Time I think for the Government in its review of the EIR and the Water Companies, to extend their review to National Grid.  If the protections the EU wanted to give EU citizens are to have any meaning then private companies exercising powers which come from the state of "compulsory purchase" and indeed nuclear electricity transmission  need to comply with the EIR. I can not see why citizens of France would be able to access the information - and those in Wales can't.  Tourism is one of the biggest industry sectors in North Wales and it is vital that the public in North Wales have access to proper information prior to and about the environmental impact of decisions by companies such as National Grid who should not seek to avoid their duty to disclose information to any members of the public who request it.  This is particularly important where possible routes include routes through a number of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and indeed Snowdonia National Park.