Lobbying of the Nuclear Industry Association in the mid-noughties

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In bed with the sceptics

The Nuclear Industry Association has had close involvement with the known climate sceptic and pro-GM organisation the Scientific Alliance in their joint quest to push nuclear power.

In NIA's October/November 2003 newsletter, Mia Nybrant from the Scientific Alliance wrote that "The goal of truly sustainable and emissions friendly energy has to include the nuclear industry."

Nybant added that "The Scientific Alliance has been playing a key role in challenging government energy policy. The highlight of the campaign so far was the The conference "2020 Vision - Powering the UK's Future" in May this year, which examined the scientific underpinnings of the major energy sources as set out in the Energy White Paper, and facilitated dialogue between the DTI and stakeholders. Adrian Ham, former Chief Executive of the NIA, put forward the case for nuclear power to retain a role in UK energy supply, warning of the perils of increased reliance on gas and the loss of nuclear expertise."

Nybrant talked about the clear need to change government policy: "Given the current state of the debate, there are clear challenges for the nuclear industry; however, they are not insurmountable as long as there is a focused programme to change the current government policy." [1]

Just under a year later, in September 2004, the two organisations held two joint seminars on "Nuclear Solutions - The Finnish Experience". The first was at Portcullis House, in Westminster.[2] The second was in Brighton to coincide with the Labour Party Conference. The chair of the second event was Bill Olner MP, from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear Energy. [3] The full costs of the visit of the Finnish nuclear experts for the seminars was paid for by BNFL. [4]

In June 2005 the NIA held a a futher debate with the Alliance called "The Challenge for Nuclear: The Policy, the Science and the Need for Public Engagement."[5]

According to the NIA: "Over sixty delegates from Parliament, Government departments, industry and academia congregated to listen to the 'French Experience' of the nuclear energy industry. In addition Professor Philip Thomas of City University gave a presentation on risk in the industry. Key players, including Gordon MacKerron, Chair of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), and Jamie Reed, the new MP for Sellafield's constituency of Copeland, were present. The French Parliament Channel filmed the proceedings and interviewed Professor David Cope, who heads the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology, and Lord Jenkin of Roding who offered their very positive impressions on the evening's revelations. So much has changed since the Battle of Trafalgar. We no longer see France as an adversary, but as an example to follow". [6]

Closer cooperation with the unions

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the NIA have tried to forge closer ties to the unions in the new nuclear push. In October 2005, Keith Parker wrote a letter to Robbie Huston from BNFL:

Dear Robbie
A couple of weeks ago Tony Cooper and I met Philip Dewhurst and Ipek to go through NIA's forward communications and public affairs plans. One of the items we discussed was improved co-operation between NIA and the industry's trade union organisations, and closer co-ordination and understanding of messages and activities. We are fairly close to TUSNE and are talking to them about forging stronger links with NIA. However Tony and I would like the opportunity to talk to officials of Nuclear 21 nUKlear21 - who we know less well - to explain what NIA's strategy is, and explore whether there could be closer communication between us so that the industry and its advocates are giving consistent messages. Philip agreed this was a good idea and suggested we contact you to arrange a meeting up at Sellafield. [7]

Nuclear media training

Several key members of NIA - Simon James, Miranda Kirschel, Ruth Stanway and Keith Parker, were the recipients of an email from Belinda Yates, from BNFL's Corporate Affairs Department, along with, amongst others, Professor Phil Thomas from City University, Lisa Woolhouse and Philip Dewhurst, Sue Ion, Richard Mayson, and Adrian Bull from BNFL, entitled: "Media Training Workshop 2"

The email, dated 2 June 05 stated:

"Dear All

You have been nominated to attend an upcoming one day media training session with Weber Shandwick ... This media training will following [sic] on from the last training session held in March this year. However there will only be the 10 of you participating in this workshop and therefore it will be a more 'hands on', intensive day with each of you partaking in television and radio interviews."

The date proposed for the Media Training was 31 August.

Keith Parker responded by saying:

"Is it not possible to do it earlier? If, as we expect, the energy review is announced before Parliamentary recess in July we need to be well prepared to hit the airwaves confidently then, rather than in September. Best regards, Keith." [8]

Behind the scenes briefing of the BBC

In March 2005 the BBC ran a series of programmes called "If" looking at future scenarios on different issues. One of the programmes was on energy. The BBC trailed the programme by asking: "Could Britain be facing a widespread, catastrophic power cut in the future? The short answer is yes." [9]. The programme was widely perceived as raising the issue of an energy shortage in the UK.

In the programme, the BBC interviewed pro-nuclear government advisor Professor Ian Fells who was quoted as saying: "Unless we make decisions now our electricity will start to run out within five years." The programme also quoted Tony Cooper, the Chair of the NIA.

In an email to colleagues including people from BNFL and British Energy, Keith Parker said that "I and colleagues in NIA were involved in briefing the programme makers ... the programme is a powerful caution against relying on imported gas for Britain's electricity, and losing indigenous capacity." [10]

The programme had helped put nuclear back on the political agenda.

Funded by BNFL, funding SONE

Documents released under Freedom of Information, show that BNFL's Annual subscription to the NIA for the period of 1st April 2005 to 31st March 2006, was £200,000. Including VAT the total was £235,000. [11]

Other documents show that on the 7 June 2004, Dorothy Seed from BNFL emailed Keith Parker.


We spoke about the process for arranging payment relating to SONE. Could you email me with the following words, so I can start off the process internally". The words were:
"I can confirm that the NIA will provide services relating to support for nuclear energy, specifically for activities carried out by SONE. The cost of this activity for 2004/5 is £21k, to be paid immediately in one annual instalment. We will provide you with service entry details for this, which you then can quote on your invoices to us". [12]

On the 17th October 2005, Keith Parker from the NIA wrote to Theresa Dickinson of the Energy Unit at BNFL, regarding the "Proposal for Provision of Service". The letter read:

"Dear Theresa
We detail below the activities to keeping the nuclear option open. Would you please arrange to issue Purchase Orders so that payment may be claimed
1. Additional support to NIA to assist in information delivery and influencing on nuclear energy issues - fixed payment of £21k"
2. Blanked out under BNFL
3. Blanked out by BNFL
4. Blanked out by BNFL
5. "Funding to support KNOO awareness meetings and payment of speakers on the industry's behalf - limit of liability £10K
6. Funding to support MORI research on public attitudes towards energy / nuclear energy - limit of liability £12K
Total Value: £102.2k" [13]

A front for BNFL?

In July 2005, BNFL was asked to contribute to a special edition of Parliamentary Monitor on "future energy". Adrian Bull from BNFL wrote to colleagues that "I believe that any input should be via NIA based on our newly created briefing material ... Although we would of course be happy to work on it behind the scenes." [A. Bull (2005) Email to Belinda Yates, Richard Mayson and Brian Hoffmann, 20 July]

On 5th October 2005, The Financial Times ran an article by its political correspondent, Chris Adams, entitled "Blair risks revolt over new power stations", which stated: "Tony Blair risks a backbench rebellion if he decides to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, with survey evidence showing nearly half of Labour MPs opposed to the idea."[14]

At just after 8 am that morning, Dorothy Seed from BNFL emailed Ruth Stanway at the NIA:


I would propose a letter from Keith as follows:


A recent survey by MORI on behalf of the nuclear industry shows that the percentage of MPs who would support building new nuclear power stations to replace existing capacity slightly exceeds those who would oppose it..." [D. Seed (2005) Email to Ruth Stanway, 5 October, ]

Why was NIA writing to the FT on behalf of BNFL?

The "Important" 2005 Conference Season - cash for access?

In July 2005, Keith Parker sent an email to numerous colleagues in the nuclear industry concerning the Autumn party conferences. Released under the Freedom of Information Act, most of the names have been blanked out, apart from John Mills and Philip Dewhurst at BNFL. The email read:

"Dear Colleagues

With the announcement of a Government energy review looking increasingly likley towards the end of the year, this autumn's political party confernces are particularly important for the nuclear industry. NIA will be present and active at all three major party conferences and at the TUC conference." [15]

Further documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show the extent of the lobbying by the NIA, TUC, BNFL, British Energy and Trade Unionists for Safe Nuclear Energy (TUSNE) during the 2005 party conference season: [16]

  • Lib Dem Conference, Blackpool - On Monday, 19 September, the NIA sponsored a Centre for Reform fringe debate with John Thurso who has Dounreay in his constituency. The following evening it held a reception at the Imperial Hotel, followed by a Dinner;
  • Labour Conference, Brighton - On Monday, 26 September TUSNE held a lunch at the same time as BNLF / New Statesman held an event together. That evening BNFL held a dinner. The following day, the NIA held a fringe meeting on the Economics of the New Build, with Lisa Woolhouse amongst others. In the evening there was the "British Nuclear Group" disco, called "rock around the clock". On the Wednesday the NIA sponsored a Fabian Society debate on energy policy and in the evening the NIA/British Energy sponsored a TUSNE dinner.
  • Conservative Conference, Blackpool - On Wednesday 5th October, the NIA held a reception and Dinner at the Imperial Hotel with Bernard Jenkin the Shadow Energy Minister for the Conservatives and Evan Harris for the Liberal Democrats.

Parker's July email went on to note that:

"All of these activities clearly have cost and resource implications and I am writing to you to ask for your company's support at this crucial time. If each company represented on the Board were able to pledge £2000 towards NIA's conference costs it would ensure a strong and effective presence, and enable us to commission high quality information materials for distribution to delegates. In return we can offer your company the chance to display your logo and literature on the stand, invitations to the fringes and receptions and dinners (places are limited for the dinners), and Subject to adequate notice (by 31 August) passes for the conference centres which will allow you or another named representative to enter the secure zone and to meet MPs and delegates. NIA can try to arrange meetings, again given adequate notice." [17]

BNFL donated £8225 to NIA for the "Party Conferences 2005" [18]


  1. NIAUK website
  2. Scientific Alliance website
  3. Scientific Alliance website
  4. K. Parker Email Re: Agreement with Scientific Alliance (pdf), 28 July, 2004.
  5. Scientific Alliance website
  6. NIAUK website
  7. K. Parker Email Re: Meeting BNFL Trade Unions (pdf), 28 October, 2005.
  8. K. Parker Email RE: Media Training Workshop 2 (pdf), 3 June, 2005.
  9. BBC website
  10. K. Parker Email Re: If (pdf), 5 March, 2004.
  11. NIA, Invoice to BNFL (pdf), 1 April, 2005.
  12. D. Seed Email Re: Service Agreement for SONE (pdf), 7 June, 2005.
  13. K. Parker Proposal for Provision of Services, Letter to T. Dickinson (pdf), 17 October, 2005.
  14. C. Adams (2005) Blair Risks Revolt Over New Power Stations, [The Financial Times], p2],
  15. K. Parker Email Re: Party Conferences (pdf), 26 July, 2005.
  16. Conferences 2005 - Timetable for TUSNE, BNFL, British Energy and NIA at TUC and Party Conferences (pdf - see 3rd page), 23 October, 2005.
  17. K. Parker Email Re: Party Conferences (pdf), 26 July, 2005.
  18. NIA (2005) Invoice to BNFL - Contribution Towards Party Conferences 2005, 29 September