Brian Wilson

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Brian Wilson


Brian Wilson is a former Labour MP and Energy Minister. A founder of the West Highland Free Press newspaper, he was a journalist until he became a Labour MP for the Scottish constituency Cunninghame North in 1987. [1]

Wilson held a succession of Government posts, including: Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with responsibility for trade, the Middle East and Africa; Minister of State, Industry and Energy; Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Minister of State for the Scotland Office and Deputy Spokesperson, Trade and Industry. [2]

He left Parliament on 11 April 2005. [3] He remains a member of the Privy Council, which is made up of senior serving and former politicians.

Links to the nuclear industry

Wilson's former constituency contains British Energy's Hunterston plants. An advocate of renewable energy - as an MP he was a paid adviser to three companies involved in renewables - he is also a long-standing supporter of nuclear power and regularly speaks in favour of nuclear. [4]

On 26 October 2005, he was appointed non-executive director of AMEC Nuclear Holdings Ltd, the nuclear services arm of AMEC plc. The announcement boasted that the firm is the UK's largest private nuclear services business. 'It is vital to have a British company of AMEC Nuclear's standing involved in every aspect of the industry,' Wilson said. 'There is a huge amount of essential work to be done at both home and abroad, including clean-up and decommissioning, and I want to see the maximum level of participation from the UK in that process". [5]

Neville Chamberlain, the former chief executive of BNFL and current chairman of Urenco, was appointed to the same position on the same day. [6]

AMEC's clients include BNFL, British Energy, UKAEA and AWE Aldermaston, and it ran a concerted PR campaign to push nuclear. In May 2005, The New Statesman reported a discreet pro-nuclear media briefing hosted by AMEC at which Wilson spoke alongside David King, the Government Chief Scientist, and Dipesh Shah, Chief Executive of the UKAEA. "The industry has been working together to push nuclear power up the agenda recently," Wilson is quoted as saying. "The growing interest in climate change and security of energy supply - plus the election - meant the time was right." [7] [8]

As Scotland Minister and then Energy Minister, Wilson helped AMEC win several major projects around the world. In March 2004, AMEC won part of a £550m deal in Iraq to rebuild the water and sewerage networks, following intense lobbying by Wilson, who was then Tony Blair's special envoy to Iraq. [9] [10]

Shortly after his appointment to AMEC, Wilson wrote an article in The Observer promoting the building of new nuclear power stations. Headlined, 'We have no other option', it followed Tony Blair's announcement that the government would launch an energy review to consider the future of nuclear power. [11]

'By acknowledging that nuclear power should continue to be part of our future energy mix, Tony Blair has responded to pressing realities and also moved in the same direction as public opinion. The challenge now is to turn this nod in nuclear's direction into something more substantial - while promoting a policy that is not only accepted but positively approved of,' Wilson wrote. 'It is essential for ministers to stress and mean that nuclear and renewables are not rivals but two sides of the same coin - namely, the overriding imperative of an energy mix that reduces carbon emissions and combats global warming. As Energy Minister, I developed the mantra that there has never been a nuclear moratorium in this country. It is just that nobody has, for some time, wanted to build them. In today's changed circumstances, that gets over the first hurdle - we don't need legislation to build new nuclear stations. But it still leaves the second - who will want to do it?'

The article continued:

'We can be sure that, in the light of last week's activity, every anti-nuclear group in the land is gearing up for the three-ring circuses of public inquiries with a view to dragging the process out for as long as is possible. Historically, the system has played straight into their hands. Yet the likelihood is that any applications for new-build will be on sites already licensed for nuclear generation. So do we really need a process that stretches over years rather than months? Plans for new stations should be subjected to proper scrutiny - but not to the timewasting tactics that have bedevilled the process in the past. It is unlikely that reactor designs will be proposed that have not been used elsewhere in the world. There will be a huge body of existing knowledge to draw on.'

Wilson had been pressing for a return to nuclear in the strongest possible terms before his appointment to AMEC. 'The case for resuming a nuclear energy programme in the UK is so strong that the time is ripe to take the argument head-on,' he wrote in The Observer in August 2004. [12]

Wilson has also spoken up for nuclear at conferences organised by the Foreign Policy Centre, which has long backed nuclear power. At one meeting, entitled 'Can We Wait for Renewables?' at the Labour Party Conference 2003, in Bournemouth, Wilson wholeheartedly backed nuclear power, presenting it as an environmental choice. 'It's not good enough to draw into entrenched positions and say 'we're anti-nuclear because we're environmentalists' - at least the possibility should be considered,' he told the audience. 'We should be saying: 'we're pro-nuclear because we're environmentalists', and it is much more important to reduce carbon to combat global warming than it is to pursue an obsessive crusade for the run down of the nuclear industry.' [13]

Other business interests

Wilson was a director of a company called Virtual Utility Limited from September 2003 to May 2004, understood to be involved in windfarms, which he did not declare in the relevant register of MPs interests. [14]

The Register of MPs' Interests released on 11 April 2005 also states that Wilson is an advisor to Pipsa Energy, an organisation NuclearSpin can find no trace of. [15]

He is a director of Scottish Resources Group and Greenrock Energy as well as chairing his own consultancy company.[16]


Contact, References and Resources




  1. Biography on Nuclear Industry Association website, undated, accessed February 2006.
  2. Biography on Nuclear Industry Association website, undated, accessed February 2006.
  3. Brian Wilson profile on 'They work for you' website, undated, accessed February 2006.
  4. House of Commons Register of MP's interests, 11 April 2005.
  5. AMEC press release 'Rt Hon Brian Wilson and Neville Chamberlain CBE appointed non-executive directors of AMEC Nuclear', 26 October 2005.
  6. AMEC, ibid.
  7. AMEC, ibid.
  8. Jonathan Leake and Dan Box, 'The nuclear charm offensive', The New Statesman, 23 May 2005.
  9. AMECcontracts}} Wilson's speech to 'Offshore Europe 2001' conference, Aberdeen, 4 September 2001; Wilson's speech to '10th Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition', Baku, Azerbaijan, June 3, 2003; and Scotland Office press release 'Philippines gas contract heralds web generation for offshore industry - Wilson', 19 January 2001.
  10. Terry Macalister, 'Amec deal saves government blushes in Iraq', The Guardian, 25 March 2004.
  11. Brian Wilson, 'We have no other option', The Guardian, 4 December 2005.
  12. Brian Wilson, 'Face the facts. The future must be nuclear', The Observer, 22 August 2004.
  13. 'Can we wait for renewables?' (pdf file), report of Foreign Policy Centre organised meeting at Labour Party Conference 2003.
  14. The relevant Registers of MP's interests are [1] and [2]
  15. See [3]
  16. 16.0 16.1 Board Members: Brian Wilson - Chairman, Britain’s Energy Coast Board, undated, accessed 20 May 2012