Photo: Oldbury, 16 miles from Stroud
Greenpeace received an astonishing response to their complaint to the Marketing Research Standards Board about the government's second public consultation on nuclear power. The board sets the standards for opinion research and found that the market research company Opinion Leader Research breached the Code of Conduct. The board said Opinion Leader "information was inaccurately or misleadingly presented, or was imbalanced, which gave rise to a material risk of respondents being led towards a particular answer."
The Conservatives in the press accused ministers of "gerrymandering" and attacked them for employing Opinion Leader to run the project, a consultancy linked to Gordon Brown's personal pollster Deborah Mattinson. Opinion Leader runs the Government's citizens' juries and was awarded almost £1m of Treasury contracts when he was Chancellor. Ms Mattinson stood down as the company's joint chairman last year to work for Labour but remains a senior figure in its parent company.
The Market Research Standards Board said: "Information was inaccurately or misleadingly presented, or was imbalanced, which gave rise to a material risk of respondents being led towards a particular answer."
Greenpeace have denounced the consultation as "a sham and an insult to the people who took part" claiming it would leave the Government's plans in disarray. Examples included focus groups being given material colouring nuclear and renewable power green, with blue for coal oil and gas. See Greenpeace blog here and more here.
In my recent letter to local press on nuclear ownership and new build I noted the delays and problems with the flagship newbuild in Finland - now we hear that the completion of Europe's first pressurized nuclear reactor will be delayed by another three years (see here)!! This is the fourth delay how can anyone take the industry seriously when they promise to meet targets and budgets?
There is also news that the Britain's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is battling to recruit up to 50 inspectors to cope with its existing workload in the nuclear industry and the vital assessment of the reactors being put forward to meet government plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations. HSE said its nuclear arm had some 160 inspectors but needed another 30 to bring it up to full complement to meet the workload on existing nuclear sites. It also needs a further 20 inspectors for the teams working on the generic design assessments of the next generation of nuclear reactors. This is deeply worrying See Guardian 20th Oct 2008.
Meanwhile a Labour MP has accused the UK Government of covering up a deal that will land taxpayers with a multi-billion- pound liability in the event of a nuclear accident while a private consortium will reap the profits. Newport West MP Paul Flynn discovered that details of a contract to privatise the management of waste from the controversial Sellafield nuclear power station in Cumbria should have been placed in the House of Commons library in July. If they had been, MPs would have had 14 days in which to raise questions about the deal. In fact, the contract was not put into the library until last week, by which time the opportunity to scrutinise it had gone. See more here.