All posts by Alison Downes

Hundreds join Sizewell C protest march as planning decision is delayed

15 May, Suffolk: Hundreds of people came together in east Suffolk today to join Stop Sizewell C and Together Against Sizewell C for a colourful, noisy march and rally against Sizewell C. Carrying banners saying “Chaos Coast, coming soon”, “Roadworks (for years) ahead” and “Enjoy Suffolk while you can”, protestors marched from Leiston to Sizewell beach where they were joined at a rally by Adrian Ramsay, Co Leader of the Green Party. 

The march took place just days after Ministers decided to delay the Sizewell C planning decision by over 6 weeks, from 25 May to 8 July, [1] which campaigners take as clear recognition of the project’s many difficult problems including water supply, transport, coastal erosion and biodiversity. [2]

Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C said: “We have all come here today to show that a decision to go ahead with Sizewell C would be a wrong decision. EDF has clearly not taken this community with them, [3] and the government has totally betrayed the faith of local people in due process by repeated commitments to Sizewell C [4] when it doesn’t have planning consent, let alone a Final Investment Decision. Two wrongs don’t make a right, so where is the sense in copying Hinkley C, badly overrun and overspent [5] using a faulty reactor design that’s been offline in China for the last 10 months?” [6]

Pete Wilkinson, Chair of Together Against Sizewell C said “As we have shown comprehensively in evidence to the government and the planning authorities, the case against Sizewell C is overwhelming. If the Secretary of State dares to approve its construction in the face of that evidence and in the knowledge that nuclear is a declining industry, competes badly with renewables on all fronts [7] and will fail to provide the sort of response required by the existential emergency created by climate change, the government can add dereliction of duty to its charge sheet.”

Adrian Ramsay, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “We face an unprecedented rise in the cost of living. Building a nuclear power station with the kind of subsidy the Government is talking about will lock in raised electricity prices for years to come. Renewably generated electricity is now far, far cheaper and will deliver far more sustainable jobs for Suffolk people and its independent businesses than this expensive white elephant. As the Greens’ parliamentary candidate for villages near this site, I know first hand the strength of opposition locally. Construction will take a decade and generate thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions. The climate crisis needs tackling now, not in a dozen years’ time when Sizewell C may just start operating.”

Other speakers at the rally include district councillors Louise Gooch [Labour, Kirkley & Pakefield] and David Beavan [Liberal Democrat, Southwold, Reydon and Walberswick]. Invitations were extended to two Conservative councillors but they were unavailable.

Photos available here: https://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-B9wfx9/  Credit Gregg Brown/Stop Sizewell C & TASC

Notes for Editors

  1. On 12 May Minister Paul Scully said “I have decided to set a new deadline of no later than 8 July 2022 for deciding this application. This is to ensure there is sufficient time to fully consider further information provided by the applicant and interested parties in response to the Secretary of State’s post-examination consultation.” 
  2. For a summary of outstanding issues, see www.stopsizewellc.org/predecision/There is as yet no long-term mains water supply for the plant, which needs an average of 2.2 million litres per day in the driest region of the UK. Potable water for the construction will have to be supplied by a damaging desalination plant. 
  3. In January 2021 Kwasi Kwarteng said “The way in which EDF engages with the local community, particularly in Sizewell C – if that’s the one that gets the green light – is really important because in all of these issues there are always two sides. The onus is on the company developing a project to bring as many people as possible with them”. Sizewell C is facing considerable local opposition and it is also opposed by the RSPB, whose internationally famous Minsmere reserve adjoins Sizewell C, and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Part of Sizewell Marshes Site of Scientific Interest would be lost forever. The cooling systems have the potential to trap and kill hundreds of millions of fish and other marine biota annually during each of its 60 years of operation.
  4. On 7 April Kwasi Kwarteng told the “Today” programme “we are committed to Sizewell C”. On 13 May he tweeted “agree Sizewell C” 
  5. EDF is shortly expected to publish details of the extent to which Hinkley Point C will overspend and overrun. This would be the 4th confirmed increase since construction began in 2016 (other increases announced in 2017, 2019 and 2020). Industry claims that making a copy of Hinkley C’s EPR reactors will reduce costs and construction risk are not credible. It is impossible to replicate the location ,and the pattern of delay and overspend has been repeated multiple times at Taishan, Olkiluoto (still not at full operating capacity) and Flamanville – the latter two over a decade late and multiple times overspent.
  6. Taishan I has been offline since July 2021 with fuel failure. Besides the loss of sealing on the fuel rods, EDF also reports (see page 116)In addition, a phenomenon occurring between the assemblies and a component enclosing the core has been identified, which would be linked to hydraulic stresses. Studies are underway on these phenomena and their potential impacts.”
  7. Sizewell C’s 3.2GW of power would cost at least £20bn (this figure is 2 years out of date) compared to an estimated £50bn for 30GW – nine times this capacity – in offshore wind. Investments in Sizewell C would suck vital resources from renewables, energy efficiency or technologies such as green hydrogen storage.

Sizewell C planning decision delayed to 8 July

12 May: BEIS Minister Paul Scully has today announced a new deadline of 8 July for the decision whether or not to grant Sizewell C planning consent, a delay of over six weeks from the original deadline of 25 May. [1]

The decision to delay coincides with EDF’s AGM and ahead of an anticipated announcement of the scale of cost and time overruns expected at Hinkley Point C. [2]
Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C said: “This delay is down to the dozens of really difficult problems with the Sizewell C application – including water supply, transport, coastal erosion and biodiversity. More importantly it questions a major cornerstone of the government’s Energy Security Strategy. The dinosaur that is Sizewell C has already been 11 years in the making, and a lengthy construction is still some way off if it ever begins. Especially in light of the failure of the Taishan EPR reactor, [3] the government must stop this overpriced, lumbering project and focus on cheaper, faster, reliable alternatives that will cut energy costs and fight climate change.”
BEIS had set a deadline of 23.59 on 23 May for Interested Parties to comment on new information provided by the Applicant and other stakeholders in the post-Examination period. Given the huge level of public interest in the project, hundreds more representations were likely to be submitted, giving BEIS less than 48 hours to read and consider them all. [4]
1. Minister Scully said “I have decided to set a new deadline of no later than 8 July 2022 for deciding this application. This is to ensure there is sufficient time to fully consider further information provided by the applicant and interested parties in response to the Secretary of State’s post-examination consultation.” 
2. In January EDF announced a new review of Hinkley C with the results expected Q2 2022. It’s already been widely reported that there will be cost and time overruns but the exact figures are not yet public.
3. EDF says of Taishan, in addition to the fuel failure “inspections carried out on the assemblies and the inside of the vessel also revealed a localised phenomenon between the assemblies and a component covering the core related to hydraulic exposure.” See https://www.edf.fr/sites/groupe/files/2022-03/edf-2021-universal-registration-document.pdf page 78

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/business/sizewell-projections-message-on-nuclear-power-8768518

Sizewell night-time projections make their point to Boris

Sizewell B images against Sizewell C

Campaigners send their message to Boris Johnson by illuminating Sizewell B – Credit: Stop Sizewell C

Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected this week to meet the bosses of leading power and energy development companies to discuss ways of increasing Britain’s electricity and gas supplies.

Officials from EDF, developer of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power plant, are expected to be invited to the talks.

Rolls-Royce and nuclear company Westinghouse are also understood to have been invited.

EDF and Sizewell C declined to comment.

Powerful messages were beamed onto Sizewell B by campaigners

Powerful messages were beamed onto Sizewell B by campaigners – Credit: Stop Sizewell C

But Stop Sizewell C said the Suffolk power project was not the solution to the energy crisis as it stepped up its campaign again at the weekend by projecting messages onto Sizewell B on Saturday night.

The illumination said: ‘The Energy Crisis is now, not 2035’; ‘Too Costly, Two Decades, Too Late’, and ‘Boris don’t bet on Sizewell C’.

Stop Sizewell C

Campaigners get their message across – Credit: Stop Sizewell C

Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C said: “If Sizewell C is the answer, it’s the wrong question. Even if it delivered on schedule, which with EDF’s track record is highly unlikely, it would not be generating until 2035 by which time our energy landscape will be transformed by solar, wind, storage and efficiency.

Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C

Alison Downes from the Stop Sizewell C campaign. – Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“If ministers insist that nuclear must be part of the long-term mix, they should dedicate tomorrow’s roundtable to advanced technologies such as Rolls Royce’s Small Modular Reactors, which have the potential to roll out in a shorter timeframe to Sizewell C and deliver a seventh of the power for a tenth of the cost.”

Mr Johnson promised a “colossal” investment in green energy and vowed to use the UK’s fast coronavirus vaccine rollout as motivation to build more wind farms in a bid to produce alternative power forms.

He said: “It is time to take back control of our energy supplies.

“After years of short-termism and hand-to-mouth solutions, we are setting up a British energy security strategy and we will make better use of our own naturally occurring hydrocarbons rather than import them for top dollar from abroad.”

The Tory leader said using Britain’s own fuel supply did “not mean in any way that we will abandon our drive for a low carbon future”, pledging to place “big bets” on nuclear power, including on small modular nuclear reactors.

Stop Sizewell C projects urgent messages onto Sizewell B dome ahead of Downing Street nuclear roundtable   

20 March 2022

[Suffolk] Stop Sizewell C last night projected three urgent messages onto the iconic dome of Sizewell B ahead of tomorrow’s nuclear roundtable at Downing Street. They highlight how Sizewell C is not the solution to the current energy crisis. The messages were (see below):

‘The Energy Crisis is now, not 2035’

‘Too Costly, Two Decades, Too Late’ and

‘Boris don’t bet on Sizewell C’

High resolution images including wider views here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1yjuxgIc_nkWCDY-Ib19j7ErOxjEqqp7y?usp=sharing. Please credit Stop Sizewell C

Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C said: “If Sizewell C is the answer, it’s the wrong question. Even if it delivered on schedule, which with EDF’s track record is highly unlikely, it would not be generating until 2035 by which time our energy landscape will be transformed by solar, wind, storage and efficiency. If ministers insist that nuclear must be part of the long-term mix, they should dedicate tomorrow’s roundtable to advanced technologies such as Rolls Royce’s Small Modular Reactors, which have the potential to roll out in a shorter timeframe to Sizewell C and deliver a seventh of the power for a tenth of the cost.”

Media reports today suggest the government is considering a state-backed company to support new nuclear projects, but that the Energy Strategy may be delayed some days due to “frustrations” between the Treasury and Downing Street about costs. NIC chair Sir John Armitt said last week that Britain should avoid rushing into short-term decisions in the belief that the Ukraine crisis “is changing everything for the next 30 years” adding that short-term “solar is probably the quickest.”

If Sizewell C was completed by 2035, it would have been over 22 years in the making. Local communities were first consulted in late 2012, and the planning application was submitted in May 2020. The eight years of consultation and planning were due to EDF’s lack of commitment, pausing work on the project several times. Even so, the result was an incomplete application which underwent 22 changes during the formal examination and led to the Secretary of State requesting further clarifications on a range of subjects, including where the operational 2.8 million litres/day of drinking water can be sourced from. None of these delays were due to the robust planning process by which these projects should be assessed.

EADT 27 January 2022: Government pledges £100million for Sizewell C on Suffolk coast

Read online https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/business/sizewellc-nuclear-project-government-funding-8648632

Plans to build a new nuclear plant on the Suffolk coast took a significant step forward today with the awarding of £100million in new financial support.

Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced the Government funding for the continued development of the planned Sizewell C twin reactor.

The £20billion nuclear plant – which has yet to get planning approval – would produce 3.2 Gigawatts of electricity, enough to power six million homes.

The funding would aim to continue development of the project and attract further financing from private investors.

Government ministers have made a commitment to reach a final investment decision on funding at least one new nuclear plant in this parliament.

The new plant will aim to provide continuous low carbon electricity, strengthen Britain’s energy security and reduce the country’s exposure to volatile global gas prices.

Talks between the government and the Sizewell C project developer have been continuing since last year.

Mr Kwarteng said: “In light of high global gas prices, we need to ensure Britain’s future energy supply is bolstered by reliable, affordable, low carbon power that is generated in this country

“New nuclear is not only an important part of our plans to ensure greater energy independence, but to create high-quality jobs and drive economic growth.

“The funding announced today will further support the development of Sizewell C during this important phase of negotiations as we seek to maximise investor confidence in this nationally significant project.”

As a result of this new funding package the government will take certain rights over the Sizewell C site and EDF’s shares in the Sizewell C company.

This would allow the opportunity to continue to develop a nuclear option or alternative low carbon energy project on the site.

If the final go ahead for Sizewell C is given, the government will have the £100m reimbursed with a financial return in cash or an equity stake in the project.

EDF Energy CEO Simone Rossi said he was pleased that the Government was showing confidence in Sizewell C which would “lower energy costs for consumers and help to insulate the UK from global gas prices”.

He said: “Together with our own investment, these funds will allow us to continue to move the project towards a financial investment decision.

“Sizewell C will benefit from being a near replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset which is more than five years into construction and making great progress in the challenging context of the Covid pandemic.

“Sizewell C will provide a huge economic boost to East Suffolk where it already enjoys the support of most local people. It will also bring new opportunities for thousands of nuclear supply chain companies up and down the country.”

The announcement came as the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill, which will allow a new funding model for new nuclear projects passes through parliament.

The news was welcomed by Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, who said: “Nuclear power as a low carbon energy source is a key strand of the government’s plan to achieve net zero by 2050. And whilst there are various matters still to be decided in the planning application – will also be of huge benefit locally – with high quality jobs and economic gain.”

Energy union GMB welcomed the funding. National officer Charlotte Childs welcomed the news as a “massive huge stride towards a low carbon UK.”

She said: “We face an unprecedented energy crisis and we need nuclear projects like Sizewell C to protect consumers, workers and our planet.

“GMB has worked closely with EDF throughout the development of Sizewell and look forward to the more detail discussions needed to shape industrial relations in the future.

“Net zero needs new nuclear and we are proud GMB members will be part of the team that brings low carbon energy to the UK.”

But anti-nuclear campaigners attacked the move. Greenpeace UK’s policy director Dr Doug Parr claimed: “This cash injection is a tacit admission by the Government that nuclear is not commercially viable, but they are so fixated on getting 20th-century nuclear technology delivered they’ll just keep throwing taxpayers’ money at it.

“Including all the other subsidy sources, Sizewell C will now have subsidised development, subsidised construction, subsidised power production and subsidised waste management, for a project by a subsidised company.”

Alison Downes, Stop Sizewell C, said: “It’s extraordinary that the government would give Sizewell C financial backing when the problems at Taishan raise legitimate questions about whether EDF’s EPR reactor works safely.

“Any direct government support seems to compromise the role of the Secretary of State in determining the Sizewell C planning application. We fail to understand why the UK is bailing out crisis-hit EDF, and why the government is so committed to poor value large scale nuclear when there are other, better options.”