(February 1, 2002) Did the Dutch government, back in 1994/95, reach agreement with the electricity producers and the owner of the last Dutch nuclear power station Borssele? Mr. Wijers, Minister of Economic Affairs from 1994 to 1998, and high-ranking civil servants were recently in court to answer this question (see WISE News Communique 555, "In Brief").
(562.5368) WISE Amsterdam - On January 25 three of a total of 6 persons to be heard gathered in court. The Ministry of Economic Affairs chose all the witnesses as it is up to the government to prove that the agreement was reached. The witnesses still to be heard include the director of the SEP, the Dutch association of electricity producers.
In the week before, WISE Amsterdam successfully obtained most of the written communication between the SEP and government using the Dutch version of the Freedom of Information Act; all papers are published on the WISE Amsterdam web site (but are all in Dutch!)
After months of confusion (mainly caused by the fact that the current Minister of Economic Affairs, Mrs. Jorritsma, is not at all in favor of closing the plant) the papers and the hearings did, according to observers and media reports, prove that the political decision to close the plant at the latest on December 31, 2003, was indeed fixed with a bilateral agreement between the minister and the SEP.
Former Minister Wijers was clearer than he ever was during his period as Minister; he reached agreement, he showed the minutes and he was almost angry that the owner of the plant, formerly part of the SEP, dared to question the agreement. Two high-ranking civil servants who accompanied the Minister in his talks in 1994 with the SEP confirmed the view of the former minister.
Although the case seems clear-cut, the problem is that no court decision is expected before fall. First more witnesses from both the Ministry and the SEP will be heard, then the owner of the plant can call witnesses, then the judge will decide after which both parties have the full right to appeal.
In the meantime the political situation will have changed after elections in May. Most likely the Netherlands will end up with a large conservative majority in Parliament and the two biggest conservative parties (Christian-Democrats and conservative liberals) have already let know that if they are in the government coalition, they will let the plant run till at least 2013.
As Dutch electricity consumers will soon have a free choice of electricity supplier NGO's are preparing for actions against the new owners of the Borssele nuclear power station (Essent and Delta utilities). WISE Amsterdam itself will soon start campaigning against Essent; if they choose to support the production of nuclear-generated electricity we will start consumer actions.
Source and contact: WISE Amsterdam