Loss of finance director could be the latest setback for RBS

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The Independent Online

Energy and business minister Michael Fallon has given the strongest indication yet that the Government will block elected officials who vetoed a £12bn nuclear-waste dump from being able to do so again.

Mr Fallon said his "instinct" was that county councillors should not be allowed to decide whether or not toxic nuclear waste should be buried in Cumbria.His defiance is another fillip to an industry already buzzing after EDF effectively secured a £14bn power station project at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Hitachi landed the £8bn Wylfa project in Wales. The dump would create 1,000 construction jobs and 500 posts to oversee nuclear waste. Mr Fallon also hinted that the Government may impose a nuclear dump on a site it deems suitable.

In January, the county council dismissed plans to build an underground storage centre near the Sellafield nuclear site. Eight months later, the Government launched a consultation into whether it could sidestep this problem by giving district, rather than county, councils the final say on the project. Copeland and Allerdale district councils had approved the project.

However, Cumbria county councillors overruled it by seven votes to three because of fears about the environmental impact on the Lake District.

A consultation into effectively stripping those county councillors of their powers has been completed, and the Government is preparing its response. But there is little doubt ministers plan to introduce what critics call a gerrymandering of the process.

The MP for Sevenoaks in Kent claimed that councillors who voted against burying waste in their county were based far away from the proposed dump.

He added the Coalition was "certainly going to have a very good go at getting this facility properly situated for the long term", and he was "not going to rule out any option".

The Royal Bank of Scotland could be set for a fresh blow amid reports that finance director Nathan Bostock is considering rejoining rival Santander after less than three months in the job.

Mr Bostock, at one point the bookies' favourite to take over from Stephen Hester as chief executive, only took on the role from Bruce van Saun at the beginning of October. He had previously been head of restructuring and risk under Mr Hester having joined from Santander UK where he had been the finance director.

Sky News reported that he was discussing his future with RBS last night, although the lack of a regulatory announcement means no formal resignation has been tendered. If the reports are true, it would be a severe blow to the bank's recently appointed chief executive Ross McEwan, who is already grappling with what could be the most serious scandal to hit the bank since the financial crisis.

That emerged when government adviser Lawrence Tomlinson published allegations that the bank's Global Reconstruction Group had forced viable businesses into bankruptcy with the aim of turning a profit for the bank.

The allegations are being investigated by multiple regulatory agencies, including the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority as well as HM Revenue & Customs.

The bank has also appointed City law firm Clifford Chance to review the allegations, although Mr McEwan said he did not believe the central claim to be true.

The departure of Mr Bostock would only compound his problems. Neither RBS nor Santander was prepared to comment on the reports last night.

Mr Bostock's role would have seen him playing a key rule in any future privatisation of the bank, although the prospects of that happening in the current Parliamentary session are now all but dead with serious doubts raised about the prospects during the next Parliamentary session.