Public Affairs: Japan crisis hits nuclear lobby

Nuclear power Public affairs sources say Japan disaster may hit plans for UK sites.

The nuclear crisis in Japan will have a profound effect on the PR and lobbying efforts around the next generation of nuclear sites in the UK, according to senior figures involved in the comms battle.

Last year the Government gave the green light to eight sites for new nuclear power plants, but green campaigners have called for a policy rethink in the wake of the explosions at the Fukushima power plant.

With numerous PR agencies lobbying on behalf of big energy, senior comms operators said the task of lobbying around the UK's nuclear ambitions was about to get harder following the tragedy.

Nick Murray-Leslie, CEO of Chatsworth, said: 'What is clearly an appalling humanitarian disaster will also have profound implications for the debate on nuclear power around the globe, and consequently the PR aspects of communicating the place of nuclear in the energy mix.'

Murray-Leslie's agency has previously handled comms for Alstom, a leading supplier of equipment to the nuclear industry. The Chatsworth boss said that both energy firms and governments across the globe would now face an extra hurdle getting their messages across. 'Influencing opinion in favour of nuclear as part of a balanced energy mix just got a lot tougher,' he claimed.

Another senior lobbyist working with a major nuclear body said it had not yet begun rethinking its lobbying strategy but was watching the situation closely from a public affairs perspective. 'They know this will give people pause for thought,' said the lobbyist, who declined to be named.

A host of new nuclear power plants in the UK are set to be built by French energy giant EDF, and Horizon Nuclear Power, the joint venture between RWE Npower and E.ON UK.

EDF retains MHP for public affairs, while E.ON uses Lexington Communications and PPS Group. Other key players include Westinghouse Electric Company which provides fuel, services and equipment for nuclear industry and uses Gardant Communications, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which uses Luther Pendragon.

Meanwhile the Transatlantic Nuclear Energy Forum uses Sovereign Strategy and the Nuclear Industry Association uses Foresight Communications.

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