Nuclear firms in rebuff to Byers

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Indy Politics

Government plans to speed up controversial developments by stopping the public challenging them at inquiries will actually hinder them, according to two of the companies they are designed to help.

Nirex, the firm in charge of disposing of Britain's nuclear waste, and British Energy, the country's main nuclear power generator, have submitted formal opposition to the plans to ministers.

Their objections explode the rationale for the emasculation of public inquires, first revealed in The Independent on Sunday last year.

They will be especially embarrassing for ministers at the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR), who had specifically cited nuclear waste facilities and power stations as projects that would "benefit" from "streamlining" the planning process.

Under the plans, which ministers will start to finalise later this month, Parliament will decide on the need for, and location of, the controversial projects – which would also include airports, roads, power lines, reservoirs, oil refineries, quarries and chemical plants.

Launching the proposals last year, Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State at the DTLR, justified them as helping "to get projects in place more quickly by cutting unnecessary delay."

But late last week, Chris Murray, Nirex's managing director, said the plans would "absolutely hinder" efforts to establish nuclear waste-disposal sites.