The Hinkley Point 'C' public inquiry and the privatisation of the UK electricity supply industry : dislocations in power relationships in the civil nuclear power policy sector

Roberts, Susan Jane (1991). The Hinkley Point 'C' public inquiry and the privatisation of the UK electricity supply industry : dislocations in power relationships in the civil nuclear power policy sector. PhD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

A detailed empirical case study of the motivations of the major objecting group participants at the Hinkley Point "C" Public Inquiry is set in the context of an analysis of the transitions caused to the UK nuclear power policy sector by the privatisation of the ESI.

First, historical comparative analysis of the nuclear power policy sectors of the USA, Canada, France and the FRG shows a positive correlation between corporatism and successful implementation of policy, and this is borne out by the case of the UK. It is concluded that a fully developed corporatist policy sector, its authority unchallenged by other systems of representation, will usually be a necessary condition for a successful nuclear programme. The failure to privatise the CEGB nuclear power stations is accounted for in terms of a model of the conflicting aims of the privatisation of monopolistic industries.

Second, analysis of interview data gathered during Hinkley "C" Inquiry with major group participants is used, in the context of the model of the policy sector developed earlier, to account for the apparent discrepancy between the allocation of resources by opposition groups to the Hinkley "C" Inquiry and their meagre expectations of rewards from the formal, internal Inquiry processes. It is concluded that:

1. Although groups claimed to be pursuing strategies that were external to the Inquiry process, the nature of the Inquiry limited the success of this approach.

2. The representatives of groups interviewed displayed ambivalence, simultaneously believing participation was worthwhile and that the Inquiry was a sham.

3. Groups' most successful tactic was that of delay through mass objection and participation.

The sensitivity of policy implementation to the institutional structure of the policy sector will be of considerable importance to the Government review of the prospects for nuclear power in 1994.

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