Green Party campaigner Peter Tatchell has called for fellow party member Chris Goodall to be spared disciplinary action by the party after backing nuclear power.

Mr Goodall, prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, was one of four leading environmentalists this week to back nuclear power, as a means of getting rid of coal-fired power stations, such as Didcot.

The statement angered party leader Caroline Lucas, because the Greens have an anti-nuclear manifesto, and said she would take the matter further, through the party’s regional council.

Local members could de-select Mr Goodall.

Mark Lynas, from Wolvercote, the author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, was also among the renegades.

But Mr Tatchell, himself the Green prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford East, said Mr Goodall should not be forced to stand down.

He said: “I have been campaigning against nuclear power now for nearly 30 years because it’s expensive and potentially a very serious danger to human health.

“In terms of the nuclear option, I think Chris Goodall and Mark Lynas are mistaken in thinking that nuclear power will give us a quick fix to tackle global warming.

“I don’t agree with Chris or Mark, but I defend their right to discuss this issue and I don’t think Chris should be censured or disciplined.

“As a Green Party candidate, he has a duty to promote anti-nuclear policies, but if he wants to promote his own personal perspective that should be respected as well. He should not go into an election on a pro-nuclear platform.”

Mr Lynas said it would be an “enormous mistake” to discipline Mr Goodall because it would turn him into a political martyr, and make the party look “Stalinist”.

He said: “There is a very harmonious atmosphere within the Green Party in Oxford at the moment as far as I can tell.”

Mr Tatchell said the cost of decommissioning 20 of Britain’s nuclear plant would be £73bn.

“The money should instead be put into renewables – wind, wave, and solar energy,” he added.

Mr Goodall said he had received a letter from Ms Lucas regarding the issue.

He added: “I got a letter from Caroline pointing out quite rightly that I should have consulted the Green Party before saying what I did, and I accept that criticism.

“There is nothing else in the letter to say that she wants to take the matter any further.

“In reply, I shall say that if I am going to talk about this issue again publicly, I shall flag it up with the Greens first.”