Aviva, don’t invest in Sizewell C

We urge Aviva to make a commitment that it will not invest in the controversial proposed twin reactor nuclear project Sizewell C in Suffolk. It’s too slow, risky, expensive and damaging to help our climate and energy emergency.

The £20 billion+ Sizewell C is an EDF-led large-scale nuclear project facing considerable local opposition because of a range of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) impacts – see below. The government wants UK pension funds to help pay for it, incentivised by the use of a “Regulated Asset Base” financing model, through which all households would pay a nuclear tariff on their bills during at least a decade of construction. Such projects are very expensive and EDF’s EPR reactor is notorious for cost and time overruns.  Sizewell C is unlikely to be generating until 2035 by which time the UK will have completed its renewable energy transition. EDF’s financial advisers Rothschild & Co said: “[Funds] are worried about what their pensioners think or their savers. These are going to be big, high-profile investments that investors do not want to be controversial.”

At its 2021 AGM, Aviva said of Sizewell C:We consider the potential ESG impact in all of our investment decisions. However, the ESG impact of nuclear is far from clear at this time and we are not actively involved in any such investments. We do think a debate is needed on this topic and we fully intend to be involved in that debate.” Since then Aviva has attended the Downing Street roundtable meeting (21 March 2022), to discuss how to “rapidly accelerate nuclear projects in the UK”, contributed to discussions about nuclear energy at Politics and Financial conferences and been part of a finance industry taskforce that published a report about nuclear power as an “ESG investable asset class”.    At the 2022 AGM, Chair George Culmer acknowledged the major impact of the Sizewell C project but reiterated that there is ‘an ongoing debate about nuclear of which we are part’ and refused to ordain what the outcome would be.  In correspondence he has said: ‘We continue to look at both the sustainability and economic considerations of future investments in this area.’

Aviva should not risk “a big bet” on Sizewell C.

In spite of the Prime Minister’s comments that it is time to “take a big bet” on nuclear, Sizewell C would compromise Aviva’s ESG policies in the following ways; 

Environment: Sizewell C is not green.

  • It would damage protected wildlife habitats and is opposed by both 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 Sizewell C site is wholly within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • It’s not sustainable. 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.
  • 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.
  • There is still no long-term solution to the storage of toxic nuclear waste. The spent fuel from the EPR high burn-up reactor is hotter than other reactors and would need to stay on the eroding Suffolk coastline for a century. 


Social: There is considerable local opposition because of the impacts on communities, including.

  • An extra 12,000 vehicles a day in an area with very little road infrastructure. Mitigation in the way of bypasses is controversial and would take 2+ years.
  • The area lacks a sufficient workforce meaning an influx of 6,000 temporary workers.
  • Tourists would stay away, resulting in a predicted income loss of £40m a year. 
  • The RAB financing model transfers construction risk to consumers and would contribute still further to soaring bills, with consumers paying up front for a decade before any energy is generated. The government’s estimates of £1/month on bills do not take inflation into account, and there is a threefold difference in the total consumers would pay between the best case (£148) and worst case scenarios (£432) of cost and build time.


  • Ownership of Sizewell C is unclear. With EDF  – 83% owned by the French state – likely to be reduced to a 20% stake, future governance is very murky. 
  • The government must decide what, if any, role EDF’s controversial development partner – China General Nuclear – would be allowed to play.
  • Unlike many multinational companies, EDF continues to operate in Russia and has links with Rosatom and Rosenergoatom.


  • Sizewell C’s 3.2GW of power would cost at least £20 billion, based on EDF’s likely over-optimistic forecasts, compared to an estimated £50bn for 30GW – nine times this capacity – in offshore wind. Investment in Sizewell C would suck vital resources from renewables, energy efficiency or technologies such as green hydrogen storage.
  • Plenty of credible Future Energy Scenarios reach Net Zero without Sizewell C, including three of the Climate Change Committee energy scenarios in its 6th carbon budget and National Grid’s “Leading the Way” scenario (NOTE) A 2021 report by Good Energy/Energy Systems Catapult found that “beyond Hinkley Point C, new nuclear is both unnecessary to reach net zero and would be difficult to manage alongside such a large fleet of renewables.”
  • One of the only operating EPR reactors in the world, at Taishan in China, has been offline since August 2021 with fuel failure, raising considerable concern about its design.

Take Action!

Tell Aviva’s CEO Amanda Blanc that Sizewell C would be highly controversial and risk reputational damage to Aviva: officeoftheceo@aviva.com