Greenpeace publicity outwits Sizewell

IT'S difficult not to be impressed with the professionalism of the publicity campaign run by Greenpeace whenever the organisation pulls off a stunt like this week's invasion of Sizewell B.

IT'S difficult not to be impressed with the professionalism of the publicity campaign run by Greenpeace whenever the organisation pulls off a stunt like this week's invasion of Sizewell B.

As well as the protesters breaking into the power station, the environmental group also had officials on the beach feeding details of the protest to the media that turned up.

"Have you a video of the break-in," a representative of one media outlet asked as soon as he turned up.

"Yes, we'll download it to you straight away," was the reply from the ever-so-helpful Greenpeace press officer.

There were two Greenpeace officials on the site specifically to deal with the press – nothing was too much trouble for them and they were guaranteed maximum publicity.

On the other hand, British Energy were caught napping over the whole business.

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I tried to call their press office on the way from Ipswich to Sizewell – photographer Simon Parker was driving.

There was no reply from the press office, it was 8.40am so we shouldn't have expected them to be in then I suppose – unlike Greenpeace's Paul Schot who was already well on his way up the outside of the dome.

I called the company's "24 hour press information line" and got an answering machine.

I left a message, but no one called back. I called again just after 9am and got through to someone who didn't know there was an incident and Sizewell and would see if someone could call me back.

An hour and two prompting phone calls later, I eventually got a reply from a press officer who gave me a bland, standard answer – and further calls for more information were unanswered.

On the communications front, the score on Monday was clear – 8-1 to Greenpeace.

British Energy is a business in crisis, surviving only thanks to a government bail-out.

If it doesn't bother to answer its critics, few will be left to lament when it does eventually go down the pan.

WHILE on the subject of Monday's protest, the police reaction seemed rather heavy on the ground.

There were 40 to 50 police officers there in 11 vehicles including six minibuses – which seemed like an awful lot for a peaceful protest.

Greenpeace is known as a responsible protest organisation, but I suppose there's always the danger it could be infiltrated by people with more sinister aims.

But by the time the police turned up they must have known it was a straightforward peaceful protest – by the time they got on the scene regional and national reporters had already got there from all over East Anglia and climber Paul Schot was already half-way up the dome.

I suppose, though, that Monday mornings aren't the busiest time for police – and at least it got them out of the station for some bracing sea air!

I'VE given planners some stick over the years – most recently when they raised objections to Whitton United's plans to move their pitch to the other side of Old Norwich Road.

But in fairness they often get things spot-on, as in the case of the attempt to build a new housing estate off Goodwood Close in Ipswich.

It was an application that "broke every guideline in the book" according to leading councillor Trevor Payne.

The planning officials were scathing in their criticism of the application. The councillors listened to their advice and threw the application out after about five seconds.

And the residents of the Henley Road area gave a huge sigh of relief that there wouldn't be another 150 homes built there.

Of course there are plans for a much larger development on the other side of Henley Road – but at least that will be planned with shops, a school and even a railway station.

It's still difficult to see how it can be built without causing more traffic chaos on already-congested roads into the town centre.

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