Judicial review of Sizewell decision

The first British legal case on the validity of procedures for authorising nuclear power stations was heard by the Court of Appeal at the end of July. Although the decision was concerned mainly with the question whether to grant Friends of the Earth (FoE) leave to challenge the Secretary of State's decision on the Sizewell B reactor, the Court's largely dismissive attitude towards the legal aspects of FoE's submission underlines the obstacles facing environmentalists using the legal process when major questions of public policy are at issue.

FoE's appeal followed a refusal of leave by the High Court two weeks earlier on the grounds of delay in making their application, but the Court of Appeal's decision (Re Friends of the Earth, Court of Appeal (Civil Division), 21 July 1987, unreported) was based largely on the merits of the case rather than lack of promptness.

Under Order 53 of the Rules of the Supreme Court and section 31 of the Supreme Court Act 1981, applicants fo

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