5 Nov 2010

Anti-Nuke campaigner Jim Duffy steps down

It was very sad to hear that Jim Duffy (pictured) is stepping down after so many years of campaigning - he has been a wonderful support and inspiration to those of us campaigning to stop more nuclear power stations and to close those old dinosaurs like Oldbury that have been limping along for far too long.

Jim will be very greatly missed: many's the time he has helped answer a query or given advice. Greenpeace's Jean McSorley sums it up well below in a newspaper article - See below or report in newspaper here.

One of the West's most outspoken opponents of nuclear power has stepped down from his role as co-ordinator of high-profile campaign group Stop Hinkley.

For more than a decade, Jim Duffy has been a thorn in the side of EDF Energy, who own Hinkley Point.

But a spokesman for the French energy giant yesterday told the Western Daily Press it respected the campaigner for the way he had "stuck" to his principles.

Mr Duffy has stood down because of an ongoing illness which has recently worsened, and his decision comes as the campaigning against the proposed Hinkley C and Oldbury on Severn power stations intensifies.

The EDF spokesman said: "EDF respects Jim Duffy's long-standing views in relation to nuclear power. Although obviously these are views we don't share, he has always stuck to his principles and we believe it is important to have an open and robust debate on the issues. We wish Jim well for the future."

Jean McSorley, consultant to the nuclear campaign with Greenpeace, also paid tribute to Mr Duffy's efforts. She said: "Jim Duffy has made a remarkable contribution to the environment movement, not just in the nuclear area, but also in the wider field. By not simply taking a negative approach and by putting forward positive alternatives he has opened up debate and helped to make the processes more democratic. His work has been empowering for others. For example, at the beginning of this year the Nuclear National Policy Statement got local people involved. It is not just about keeping the process democratic, but about encouraging people, empowering them to realise they can take part in the decision-making. I think Jim and the work of Stop Hinkley has allowed people and officials to feel empowered to ask questions. So much of the consultation process that people enjoy has come about through the joint work of different types of pressure groups, demanding that there is consultation on major planning issues. People who are worried about a hyper-market being built will also benefit from this process."

Mr Duffy, 57, a former psychotherapist, became involved in the nuclear debate in the 1990s through his involvement with the Green Party.

Stop Hinkley had been founded in the 1980s to fight the original proposal for a Hinkley C plant

The group ran a campaign to run down Hinkley A which had corrosion issues that the group argued could cause a serious accident. They enlisted the help of Dr John Large, who had worked in the nuclear industry for 20 years. When Hinkley A closed, owner British Nuclear Fuels argued it was for financial reasons, but Mr Duffy said he was told public opinion played a part.

"We may have saved four or six years' pollution through the closure," he said.

One of Stop Hinkley's most high-profile campaigns has been its fight to prove that the incidence of some types of cancer is higher in Burnham- on-Sea.

Mr Duffy's wife, Karalina, is from Belarus, where the Chernobyl disaster occurred. He said: "Members of her family have been affected by it even though they live 200 miles away in Minsk. A few years after the disaster, her sister had a full-term still birth, and when she went to hospital the ward was full of about 10 women in a similar condition."

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