EDF: Lobbying

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Électricité de France (EDF) aims to become one of the most powerful energy companies in Europe.[1] Its subsidiary EDF Energy is already one of the largest energy companies in the UK, supplying gas and electricity to about a quarter of the country's population. [2]

Lobbying and PR

EDF has played a key role in pushing for a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK.

In November 2005, EDF's Chief Executive, Vincent de Rivaz, told a parliamentary committee that new nuclear power stations could be built within ten years if planning and licensing laws were to be relaxed. [3] Giving evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, he said that new nuclear power stations should be built to help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, increase security of supply and lower energy price volatility. [4]

EDF was behind a widely-reported MORI poll, published in November 2005, which claimed that the 'majority of people now believe nuclear power has a vital role to play in meeting Britain's energy requirements and in reducing carbon dioxide emissions'. The poll also showed that the majority of people (76 per cent) believe nuclear plants are vulnerable to terrorist attack, and more than half think that atomic energy causes dangerous pollution.[5]

This poll was the main focus of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear Energy at its 25 January 2006 meeting. An advance notice of the meeting stated: :The meeting will focus on the findings of recent MORI polling that shows how Parliamentarians and the public view nuclear power today. The study compares the most recent results to those of previous years, and tracks the way attitudes towards nuclear power have shifted. Robert Knight, Research Director at Ipsos MORI will present the key information produced during the studies and Keith Parker, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), will provide a briefing on how the industry hopes to learn from and build on this evidence in the year ahead.'[6]

Free fast-track nuclear power plants

As part of its submission to the UK government's energy review in 2006-07, EDF offered to build a new fleet of French designed nuclear power stations in Britain - at no cost to the taxpayer. The catch? EDF wanted a system to guarantee the price of its electricity - and to fast track the planning process for any new plants. Pierre Gadonneix, chairman and CEO of the EDF Group, said the company would be "very willing" to play a role to make nuclear acceptable to public opinion. EDF was said to have a Euro 40 billion war-chest to expand nuclear worldwide, but a prime target has been the UK. [7]

Victory for the lobbyists

Those involved in the huge lobbying campaign for new nuclear power stations achieved at least a partial victory when the UK government published its energy review report in July 2006,[8] although some in the industry had said it did not go far enough. [9]

Andrew Brown, head of media relations at EDF Energy, and younger brother of Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, would have been one of those celebrating. Brown had moved to EDF from the lobbying and PR company Weber Shandwick, where he had been director of media strategy.[10] Weber Shandwick has a long history of involvement with the atomic industry. It also used to provide PR advice to British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL), which previously managed the Sellafield site. A former UK chief executive of Shandwick International, Philip Dewhurst, had also been an important figure pushing the pro-nuclear message both as corporate affairs director for BNFL, and then acting chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association.[11]

External lobbying firms

In 2011-2012 EDF's external registered lobbying firms were the PPS Group, which includes a number of energy companies among its clients, and MHP Communications (Gavin Devine). [12]

In August 2012, Pagefield was brought in to handle strategic comms and help strengthen EDF's case for building a controversial proposed third nuclear power reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk, UK. It won the six-figure account after a pitch process thought to have been initiated one year beforehand. According to PR Week Pagefield "is expected to play a key role in the development of EDF’s narrative around the value of a new nuclear power reactor, liaising with the public, media and stakeholders such as the Environment Agency and local authorities. Partner Wendy Blair is handling the account. Mark Gallagher will provide senior-level strategic counsel. [13]

Brunswick Group also mentions EDF Energy as a corporate comms client; Brunswick director Aideen Lee handles the account. [14] Weber Shandwick is retained for consumer PR. [13]

In 2006, EDF used lobbying firm AS Biss and Co. [15]

In January 2008, EDF Group was listed as a client of French PR firm I&E.[16]

Internal lobbyists

  • Andrew Brown, EDF Energy's brand sustainability and external comms director [17]
  • Victoria MacGregor - Head of Public Affairs at EDF Energy since 2001. Before this was Marketing and Policy Manager at the Independent Healthcare Association and an Account Manager at Grey Advertising.[18]
  • Paul Clark - Senior Public Affairs Manager.
  • Tim McCoy, head of media relations. A former BBC journalist for over 14 years as reporter, producer and programme editor for both radio and television news programmes, he joined EDF media team in September 2012 after three years as Starbucks comms chief; before that was director of comms at Blue Rubicon from 2008-2009.[17] Reports to Andrew Brown.
  • Kaa Holmes, 'employee relations and engagement director', previously head of media relations until September 2012[17]

References, Resources



  1. EDF Group website: 'Who we are', undated, accessed February 2006.
  2. EDF Energy website: 'Welcome', undated, accessed February 2006
  3. Uncorrected transcript of evidence given by Vincent de Rivaz to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 2 November 2005.
  4. House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, ibid.
  5. EDF Energy press release: 'Londoners say UK should be self sufficient in energy', November 7, 2005.
  6. All Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear Energy: Meetings, January 25, 2006.
  7. Faisal Islam, "Going Fission", Channel Four News, 12 April 2006, link no longer works as of 30 August 2012 and is not retrievable from the internet archive
  8. Terry Macalister, “The Powerful Business of Promoting a Nuclear Future”, The Guardian, 11 July, 2006.
  9. Terry Macalister and Patrick Wintour, “Nuclear chiefs say Plans do not go Far Enough”, The Guardian, 12 July, 2006.
  10. No named author, Private Eye issue 1151, p8, February 2006
  11. Chris Grimshaw, 'It's official: no dark Machiavellian conspiracy for new nuclear power', Corporate Watch newsletter, issue 21, December 2004.
  12. APPC Register Entries for 1 Dec 2011 to 29 Feb 2012 & 1 March 2012 to 31 May 2012
  13. 13.0 13.1 Matt Cartmell, EDF bolsters comms to underpin nuclear plans, , prweek.com, Wednesday, 15 August 2012, 9:24am, acc 15 August 2012
  14. Our People: Aideen Lee, Brunswick website, undated, accessed 8 June 2012
  15. AS Biss & Co: 'Our Clients', undated, accessed February 2006)
  16. I&E Clients Accessed 17 January 2008
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Alec Mattinson, EDF recruits McCoy to lead media team, prweek.com, Thursday, 06 September 2012, 9:40am
  18. Victoria MacGregor profile, LinkedIn, accessed 28 May 2012