MP in nuclear row

Date published: 15 April 2011

VETERAN Oldham MP Michael Meacher has demanded an investigation into a controversial government-approved nuclear fuel plant which he licensed in 2001.

The Oldham West and Royton MP was Tony Blair’s environment minister, responsible for giving the Sellafield Mox Plant in Cumbria an operating licence in 2001.

He told a national newspaper he only signed it under pressure from Mr Blair’s chief of staff Jonathan Powell who said the PM was “adamant” it must open.

The plant has cost the taxpayer £1.34bn so far in building, commissioning and operating costs but has produced only 13.8 tonnes of uranium-plutonium mixed fuel over eight years compared with the planned 120 tonnes-a-year.

Mr Meacher said he delayed the signing because he was never persuaded it had a commercial market and thought the cost was “exorbitant” but received a phone call from Powell in September, 2001, who said Mr Blair wanted the matter settled.

Mr Meacher has now asked for the National Audit Office and House of Commons Public Accounts Committee to investigate the economic evidence used to justify the licensing of the plant.

He added: “It is quite simply an utter scandal that needs a thorough investigation.”

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