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IPC Preliminary meeting slammed as a shambles
somerset | corporations | news report Thursday March 22, 2012 15:01 by South West Against Nuclear swanactive at gmail dot com
Campaigners today slammed the IPC process as a sham and the preliminary meeting as a shambles. The meeting which saw hundreds of people in attendance was slow to get going due to sound problems with no-body in the meeting able to hear properly despite Public Address systems being in place. Campaigner Ros Beauhill said "It was a bad choice of venue, it was inaccessible for disadvantaged people who don't own cars or for those reliant on public transport whose closes link was a twenty minute walk away. The meeting was a complete travesty it began with letters on chairs to inform participants that EDF wish to make material changes to their application, over an hour was spent discussing this reducing the time for the engagement of interested parties which was questionable as the IPC had received this letter on the 9th March and so have had plenty of time to inform interested parties prior to the meeting as should have happened."
This meeting brought into sharp focus how this process in intended to steam-roll through government projects, the meeting was characterised by bullying and intimidation. Both local authorities and other community interest groups requested that the timetable is extended because of
being under-resourced in terms of being able to scrutinise the application which runs to over 30,000 pages across more than 500 hundred documents Despite the power to extend the deadline being
within the IPC's powers as they stands right now, the lead commissioner Andrew Phillipson decided to have a joke at the public's expense quipping that "we are flexible - people can feel free to submit their representations early." Said campaigner and local mom Nikki Clark "This lack of democracy would be bad enough if what was being considered was a biscuit factory but the fact of the matter is the proposed development is nuclear reactors, these are the most dangerous type of developments ever built by man. To be denied a voice on issues that concern millions of people across the region and as far away as Wales now, as well as the impact on untold future generations of people, just shows that this whole process is a disgrace. In the event of a nuclear meltdown as has happened at Fukushima vast areas of the UK could become uninhabitable, and that's before we even talk about the waste, material concerns don't get more serious than this kind of consideration do they?"
Under the recently passed Localism Act,  the IPC is going to be abolished and turned into the National Infrastructure Directorate on the 1st April, something else that was communicated to participants with letters on chairs at yesterdays meeting. Said SWAN activist Joanne Baker "This process was designed to be prejudicial and undemocratic when it was introduced under the previous Labour government, however the coalition have taken it and made it their own in a way only the coalition government can. The Localism Act claims that 'The government trusts people to take charge of their lives and we will push power downwards and outwards to the lowest possible level, including individuals neighbourhoods and professionals and communities as well as local councils and other local institutions' yet whilst using the language of empowerment, it's actions couldn't be less empowering and decentralising. For example, the IPC's power to extend the timetable of examination under the new National Infrastructure Directorate will be removed and given to the Secretary of State - ironically an Act of obvious disempowering centralisation."
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Note to editor
 The Localism Bill was introduced in December 2010, received Royal Assent on 16 November 2011 and was amended in July 2011.