Campaigners urge EDF to abandon Sizewell C permission bid until after virus crisis

PUBLISHED: 11:54 15 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:54 15 April 2020

Campaigners have made fresh calls for EDF Energy to delay its Sizewell C planning consent submission until after the lockdown is over – amid concerns that it would be “intolerable and unfair” to add extra anxiety to people at this time.

The company intends to make a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the twin-reactor nuclear power station in the next few weeks.

It has assured the public that there will be time for them to give their views, even if the restrictions on movement because of the coronavirus continue.

A total of 54 town and parish councils in east Suffolk have already written to EDF asking for the DCO to be put on hold until after the crisis is over.

In a joint statement, Stephen Brett, chairman of Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council, and Tim Beach, chairman of Snape Parish Council, who led the letter from town and parish councils, said: “EDF’s reply to 54 town and parish councils fails to adequately address the constraints that we, the district council and county council are under, and our need to focus on maintaining core services.

“It also completely ignores the current concerns of the tens of thousands of ordinary people living in those 54 towns and parishes; their heightened anxiety, sickness or bereavement; loss of employment and money worries; or working on the frontline for the NHS or other essential services.

“For many people, Sizewell C is in itself a source of grave anxiety, so to have to deal with EDF’s application along with everything else at this time is intolerable and unfair.

“We call on EDF again to reconsider.”

Paul Collins, of Stop Sizewell C, said “If EDF’s application is submitted in the near future, then we are particularly concerned about the ability of the older and more vulnerable members of our society to fully and effectively engage in the process.

“Time is not the only issue: many of those who attend our public meetings do not use the internet or would struggle without assistance to access materials effectively. If libraries remain closed and meetings are prohibited, extending the pre-examination period to 12 weeks is unlikely to help such members of our society, hence our call for a delay until coronavirus restrictions are lifted. We remain very concerned about the fairness of this process.”

EDF Energy said people and organisations will have the summer months to read the full planning application and to register their interest if they plan to comment.

It will be asking if this pre-application phase, usually 28 days, can be extended to give people more time to access the documents. At this time, EDF will also distribute a newsletter to 40,000 local homes and businesses.

EDF said: “Crucially, we will also discuss with PINS that the examination phase itself should not start until they are happy that no parties will be disadvantaged. There is no prospect of the examination commencing even in normal circumstances for approximately five to six months.”