Bill Nighy joins campaign to stop new Sizewell nuclear power station

Bill Nighy joins campaign to stop new Sizewell nuclear power station
Ben Webster, Environment Editor
Tuesday April 28 2020, 12.01am, The Times

Bill Nighy is among those opposing the proposed nuclear reactors at Sizewell in Suffolk

Celebrities and business leaders have joined forces to try to block plans for a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast.

Bill Nighy and David Morrissey, the actors, Maggi Hambling, the painter, and Jon Hunt, the billionaire founder of Foxtons estate agents, say that the site for the proposed twin nuclear reactors at Sizewell is “totally unsuitable” because it is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will damage a nature reserve and is on an unstable coast vulnerable to sea level rise.

They are among 60 prominent people who live in the area or have connections to it who are calling on the government to step in to delay consideration of the proposal until the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

EDF, the French state controlled company planning to build the reactors with Chinese partner CGN, is preparing to submit a planning application within weeks and wants to start construction in 2022.

In a letter to The Times, the group of 60 opponents says that the planning process would be compromised because the current crisis means officials and residents would be unable to scrutinise it properly.

They also argue that the investment in Sizewell C, which could provide seven per cent of the UK’s electricity, would “suck valuable financial resources” from other less risky forms of low-carbon power, such as wind and solar.

Stop Sizewell C, the group which coordinated the letter, said that up to 600 lorries a day would run through small villages during construction and a temporary town would be created to accommodate 2,400 workers.

Mr Nighy, who used to live in Theberton with his former partner actress Diana Quick, said: “It is beyond belief that EDF is pressing forward during these terrible and uncertain times with a project so misguided, and which even the government’s own advisers find deeply concerning.

“If Sizewell C is allowed to go ahead, we will be left with an outdated form of energy that will not fit to any degree in our new world, and this internationally famous environment will be desecrated. This is a time to protect our ecosystems, not shatter them.”

Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams brewery in Southwold, Suffolk, who signed the letters, said: “If there were not already two nuclear power stations at Sizewell, no-one would consider building something the size of Sizewell C here.

“Suffolk is poorly equipped to facilitate EDF’s delivery of this major project, lacking transport infrastructure and a significant local workforce with relevant skills. Thousands of workers from outside the region will have to be accommodated in a rural area, which – coupled with traffic congestion – will significantly impact my business and others in an area prized for its beauty, tranquility and dark skies.”

EDF and CGN are building the £22 billion Hinkley Point C in Somerset, the first new nuclear power station for a generation which has been repeatedly delayed.

EDF has proposed an alternative funding model for Sizewell C under which consumers would share the risk of cost overruns and delays by paying for the project while it is still under construction.

EDF said that the alternative funding model could make nuclear power comparative in cost to offshore wind

It added that the examination stage of the application process, when feedback will be sought, was unlikely to start for 5-6 months.