The Green Party tonight refused to rule out deselecting its parliamentary hopeful for Oxford West and Abingdon after the candidate backed new nuclear power stations as a way of cutting carbon emissions.

Chris Goodall was one of four leading environmentalists to back the nuclear option as a means of getting rid of coal-fired power stations like Didcot.

And last night Mr Goodall refused to back down.

The other three converters to the nuclear option are Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith of Finsbury, former Greenpeace executive director Stephen Tindale and Mark Lynas, the author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet.

Mr Lynas said in yesterday’s Oxford Mail that switching to the Government’s line on nuclear power was “a bit like admitting you were gay to your parents”.

Mr Goodall is the only one of the four who is a prospective parliamentary candidate and his opposition to one of the party’s key positions has upset party leaders.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, MEP, said: “It is of great concern to me that a candidate should be promoting a policy which is at odds with the party manifesto, and I shall be taking that forward.

“In any party, you have a range of views, but once selected as a parliamentary candidate you have a particular responsibility.”

The party would not comment on any possible punishment, but local members have the power to choose another candidate.

Mr Goodall said he had not been contacted by the Green Party regarding the issue.

He said: “All I am suggesting is that we are not going to be able to meet our renewables target, and I would still prefer to have nuclear power rather than Didcot staying open as a coal-fired power station.

“My position as candidate is up to the local party members and is not a matter of central party diktat.”

Craig Simmons, leader of the city council’s Green group, said: “Chris is a respected author and writer, and I have not heard anything or seen any emails pinging round saying ‘get Chris out’.”