Environmental campaigners Greenpeace brought the legal challenge, which was upheld by Mr Justice Sullivan. In making his ruling the judge said “something has gone clearly and radically wrong” with the process, which failed to present proposals and information on key issues surrounding a new generation of nuclear power stations. These issues include how radioactive waste would be handled and what the financial costs of new nuclear generation would be, much of which only emerged after the consultation period had closed.

A Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) statement on the ruling said: “This judgement is about the process of consultation, not the principle of nuclear power. We will of course consult further.”

In a move designed to reassure potential investors and developers the DTI added that the government continues to believe nuclear power has a role to play in both cutting emissions and in energy security.

Sarah North, head of Greenpeace’s nuclear campaign, said: “The government completely failed to consult adequately and even kept relevant documents to themselves. They’ve now been forced back to the drawing board to conduct a proper and lengthy review.”

As a result of the ruling, a new and fuller review will now have to be conducted, a move which is expected to take up to three months and which will probably delay a proposed energy White Paper, which had been anticipated to set out a detailed energy strategy including new nuclear plants in late March.

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