Eden row over 'carbon polluter'
THE Eden Project has been criticised by environmentalists over its links with French nuclear energy giant EDF and its UK subsidiary EDF Energy.
The Cornish environmental attraction supported EDF Energy's Green Britain Day, launched yesterday by athletes including Olympian Victoria Pendleton and Paralympian Eleanor Simmonds, which urges people to reduce their carbon footprint.
The Eden Project, near St Austell, staged a series of events promoting EDF Energy's message to "do something green for the team", angering campaigners who question the nuclear producer's green credentials.
Mike Rigby of anti-nuclear campaign group Stop Hinkley, said: "It really is very rich of EDF, a major global corporate producer of nuclear waste."
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He accused EDF of being a major carbon polluter and objected to the corporation lecturing on how to be greener.
Eden Project chief executive and co-founder Tim Smit said: "Eden hasn't merged with EDF. We have partnered with them on a campaign to encourage action in lowering the carbon footprint.
"Eden's commitment to renewables and energy independence has been amply demonstrated by its memorandum of understanding to develop a geothermal power plant on its site, active exploration of hydro-electric energy from Luxulyan and its construction of a biomass boiler.
"As far as Eden's position on nuclear energy is concerned, unlike gangs, it doesn't have a collective view – that's not how we want to evolve opinions.
"If I were to be asked my personal opinion, I would agree that the case for nuclear has been overstated and that the potential of renewable energy has been understated and under-funded."
The Stop Hinkley group, which campaigns against the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset and wants nuclear reactors on the Bristol Channel and the Severn Estuary to be decommissioned in favour of greener technologies, says the Eden Project's support of EDF is perhaps understandable given the background of its board.
Two of Eden's trustees, Sir John Rose and Simon Robertson, are senior figures within Rolls-Royce, a firm known to be keen on nuclear development in the UK.
Eden non-executive director Cullum McAlpine is a director of UK building and civil engineering company Sir Robert McAlpine, whose portfolio includes the Hinkley Point B nuclear power station.
Meanwhile, EDF Energy faced possible court battle, after green energy company Ecotricity accused it of using a green Union Jack like Ecotricity's logo to promote Green Britain Day.
Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said: "EDF are not British and they are so not green – the two things that this flag surely suggests to people."
A company spokesman said Ecotricity would be pursuing a High Court challenge after confused customers and partners contacted head office complaining about the Green Britain Day logo.
However, EDF spokesman Rajan Lakhani said the Union Jack flag had been used in many ways by hundreds of commercial and non-commercial enterprises. He said: "Turning the flag green is an effective way to simply visualise Team Green Britain and what Green Britain Day is all about."
In an interview with The Times earlier this week, Mr Smit praised EDF's green credentials.
He said: "We bought our green tariff electricity from EDF, which led to discussions about an education project. The energy provider sponsored a big array of solar cells that give us about 30 per cent of the power we need for our education building.
"The more we spoke to EDF, the more we became aware of its ambition to be a clean energy giant. Not just for altruistic reasons, but because EDF genuinely believed in the vision of a low-carbon world."
Around 20 campaigners from across the country contacted Mr Smit on Wednesday asking him to "consider pulling out of your involvement with EDF".
The Eden Project responded yesterday. "You have raised some important points which need addressing," the e-mail reads, before enclosing a copy of Mr Smit's article in the previous day's The Times.
Mr Lakhani said EDF had "led the way" among energy companies in making "long-term commitments to the environment and to sustainability".
He said: "EDF Energy is now the UK's largest generator of low-carbon electricity and the first sustainability partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
"As Tim Smit said in his comment piece in the Times, EDF Energy 'genuinely believe in the vision of a low-carbon world'."