Over 600 join human wall on Sizewell Beach

 

       19 September 2021, for immediate release   

       Contact: 

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Over 600 join human wall on Sizewell Beach to highlight dramatic impact of Sizewell C and show their opposition to the project

 

[SUFFOLK] Over 600 people formed a human wall 800 metres long on Sizewell beach this morning, bearing witness to how EDF’s proposed sea defences for Sizewell C would destroy this much-loved beach and to demonstrate their opposition to the project as a whole. Wearing fluorescent vests, and holding yellow markers on canes to illustrate how high the sea defences would be, protesters came together from across the area, and as far afield as London, to show their opposition to the project. 

 

The event was co-organised by Stop Sizewell C, Together Against Sizewell C and Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth and had the support from the likes of Chris Packham, Emma Freud, Bill Turnbull and Anthony Horowitz. [1] High resolution footage and stills will be available shortly. [2]

 

Alison Downes, Stop Sizewell C said: ”We are here today to show how the construction and planned defence of Sizewell C would change this beach beyond recognition. This is one of the first opportunities for us all to come together in large numbers to show our opposition to this damaging project and it’s incredible to see so many people. This is quite simply the wrong place for two new nuclear reactors.”

 

Rachel Fulcher, Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth said: “This beach is nationally important because of the rare plants and insects that thrive here, such as Sea Pea, Grayling Butterfly and Brown-banded Carder Bee. The area of vegetated shingle is one of only six such sites in the whole of the UK, yet EDF’s sea defences would bury large swathes of it under rock armour. It’s unconscionable, which is why we have all  come here today to say we must save Sizewell Beach and say no to Sizewell C.”

 

Pete Wilkinson, Together Against Sizewell C said: “This development is not needed.  It represents an unacceptably slow response to the climate emergency, taking 12 years to build and leaving a post-construction carbon debt of millions of tonnes and a devastated environment.  The site is too small, nuclear power leaves a legacy of radioactive waste for future generations to manage, it’s dangerous, pollutes the air and the sea, it’s not green and needs to be consigned to the dustbin.”      

 

The Sizewell C project is reaching a critical stage. The Development Consent Order planning examination has less than a month to run until its statutory deadline, [3] and the nuclear industry is mounting concerted pressure on the government to introduce a new funding model. On Tuesday, Chair of the Nuclear Industry Association, Dr Tim Stone, told a finance conference that the industry needed signals “in weeks”, and that the deathly silence that had followed publication of the 10 Point Plan was “not good enough”. [4]


Campaigners were deeply disappointed that permission to fly a drone during today’s event was refused late last week. The Civil Aviation Authority stated our request was “refused by the Sizewell Nuclear site”. An appeal to Sizewell B for help in revoking this decision resulted in the response: “This risk being managed by the restrictions is access to information about the site that is required to be controlled under our security arrangements.” [5]

 

Alison Downes commented: “The Sizewell site’s refusal for our drone appears punitive, given that we have been granted permission on two previous occasions. If information-gathering was our purpose, there would be no need to go to the trouble and expense of seeking permission to fly a drone, as detailed images are already available on Google Earth.” [6]

 

Notes:

  1. Chris Packham tweeted, urging his followers to come along: https://twitter.com/ChrisGPackham/status/1437505965344141315

Emma Freud: https://twitter.com/emmafreud/status/1438217515746803712?s=20

Anthony Horowitz and Bill Turnbull retweeted.

  1. Footage will be available via wetransfer shortly
  2. The examination closes on 14 October.
  3. Watch The UK Sustainable Infrastructure Policy & Investment Online Virtual Summit, at about 7 hours 20 minutes ​​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmUbk2XPjUI 
  4. Copy emails are available on request. The Civil Aviation Authority email said “Regarding the request for a R217 Exemption of the Sizewell restricted airspace. This has been refused by the Sizewell Nuclear site and due to the request being refused, the Exemption will not be issued for this activity.” 
  5. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sizewell,+Leiston/@52.2142543,1.6173931,518m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x47da27ca662c1c11:0x101799398b74f91d!8m2!3d52.207955!4d1.621034 

 

EADT – “Critical Issues” to be discussed at Sizewell C hearings

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/sizewell-c-september-2021-hearings-8274260

“Critical issues” with plans for a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast – including the impact building work would have on residents – are to be discussed at public hearings.

The Planning Inspectorate is holding a series of Issue Specific Hearings on EDF Energy’s bid to build Sizewell C as part of its formal examination of proposals for a new twin-reactor.

Hearings have been taking place this week, with another four days of hearings scheduled to take place at Snape Maltings in mid-September.

The first day on Tuesday, September 14 will look at flood risk and water supply issues, while the following day will examine the “potential adverse effects on human health and living conditions of local residents during construction”.

The hearings on Thursday, September 16 will look at landscape and heritage issues, including “potential adverse effects on heritage assets forming part of the Heveningham Hall estate and National Trust Coastguard Cottages”.

The code of practice for the construction of the site will be assessed on Friday, September 17.

A spokesman for EDF Energy said: “We are pleased the hearings are going ahead, as they will allow the examining authority to continue to explore all our proposals and enable all interested parties to participate.”

But Paul Collins, chairman of the Stop Sizewell C campaign group, said: “We are well over two-thirds of the way through the Sizewell C examination, which has exposed many serious failings in EDF’s application.

“There are still a  number of critical issues to be heard.

“Whether or not the Planning Inspectorate will agree with our MP’s recommendation that the examination is extended remains to be seen, although we note EDF’s latest financial report is now hinting that a secretary of state decision is due ‘mid-2022’ as opposed to April 2022, which suggests that they at least are expecting this.”

Once the examination process is concluded, an inspector will make a recommendation to government as to whether the nuclear plant should go ahead or not.

Sizewell C had delayed the original submission of the planning application by two months and extended the period of public registration due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This had followed eight years of public consultation to form the proposals for the new power station.

The meetings will be live-streamed and also available to watch afterwards.

To watch the hearings, click here.

EADT – Anger over desalination plant plans

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/sizewell-desalination-plant-consultation-water-supplies-8238290

Assurance over drinking water supplies as desalination unit planned for Sizewell C

A temporary desalination plant will have to be installed to provide enough water during the construction of Sizewell C if the £20billion nuclear power plant gets the go-ahead.

Consultation is under way on the plans for the unit, which would take sea water and remove the salt to create drinking quality water, because water companies cannot guarantee supplies.

But opponents of the power project say until the desalination plant is ready it will mean 40 more trucks a day visiting the site to deliver potable water.

Paul Collins, chair of Stop Sizewell C, said: “This latest consultation is yet another example of EDF trying to fit the square peg of Sizewell C into the round hole of East Suffolk.

“It exemplifies how wrong this project is for our area, lacking the necessary infrastructure, and calls into question what other last minute changes and additions EDF will demand as the obstacles of this wrongly-sited project emerge.

“The issue of fresh water supplies has been raised since the start. EDF’s claims that a water desalinisation plant and its diesel generator power supply, plus 40 additional tankers of water a day for the first 9 to 12 months, won’t mean increases in HGVs and CO2 emissions are not credible. And we are gravely concerned its operation would further damage the beach, impact coastal processes and create a toxic environment for local marine life.”

A Sizewell C spokesperson said: “Clean water from a dependable source would be required from the earliest stages of construction of Sizewell C.

“While our planning application includes proposals to access water from a permanent water main, ongoing work with stakeholders throughout this time, including the water companies has indicated that there could now be a risk that the full requirement of potable water in the early years of construction will not be met.

“We are proposing a change to our planning application to include a temporary desalination plant on the main construction site, away from both Sizewell Marshes SSSI and Sizewell beach.

“The proposed temporary desalination plant would provide a reliable, continuous source of water while the permanent water transfer main is completed.

“During the 4-6 months it would take to build the temporary desalination plant, clean water would be delivered to the Sizewell C site by water tanker trucks. This would not increase the overall number of HGVs predicted for the project during the early years of construction.

“The construction and operation of Sizewell C, including this proposed change to our construction Water Supply Strategy, will not impact the local supply of drinking water.

“When things change it is important that we listen and make changes. In that way we work to achieve planning consent for a project that reduces as much of the impacts of construction on local communities as possible.”

Telegraph – EDF Delays Final Decision on Sizewell C

8 August 2021

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/08/08/edf-delays-final-decision-sizewell-c/

EDF delays final decision on Sizewell C

French energy giant now expects to leave it as late as 2023 before deciding whether to proceed with Suffolk nuclear power project

The timeline for EDF to decide whether to go ahead with the £20bn Sizewell C power station has slipped amid a lengthy planning approval process that is playing out as funding negotiations with ministers continue.

The French power giant now expects to make a final investment decision on the Suffolk plant at the end of 2022 or in 2023, compared to its previous expectations of mid-2022.

The plant, set to generate enough power for about 6m homes, would be the second new UK nuclear plant in a generation after Hinkley Point C in Somerset, which EDF is building with minority Chinese partner China General Nuclear (CGN).

Almost all of the UK’s ageing plants are set to shut down by the end of this decade, leaving a gap in the nation’s power supply just as demand grows due to rising use of electric cars.

Nuclear power provides about 17pc of the nation’s annual power supply, and maintaining at least some of that capacity is regarded as important in Whitehall because it does not generate carbon emissions.

EDF is in negotiations with the Government about a funding deal for Sizewell C and will also need external investors.

Legislation is likely to be brought forward to allow developers to recoup costs during construction from household energy bills.

However, talks have been overshadowed in recent weeks by reports that ministers are seeking ways to block CGN from Sizewell and future UK nuclear projects. CGN has a 20pc development stake in Sizewell with an option to participate in the construction phase.

EDF submitted its application for a development consent order to the planning inspectorate last May, delayed by two months due to the pandemic, and has since made more than a dozen changes.

It has just submitted plans to build a temporary desalination facility alongside the site to provide fresh water to the plant during construction, involving up to nine 40ft shipping containers.

Northumbrian Water, which owns local water supplier Essex & Suffolk Water, has said a new mains pipeline will be needed to bring in water from another catchment area, but is unlikely to be ready until at least 2026.

An EDF spokesman said it wanted the planning approval process to be as thorough as possible so that local communities’ and others’ feedback is listened to and the best design for the plant is developed.

Stop Sizewell C, a local campaign group, said the changes to the water supply plan “exemplifies just how wrong this project is for our area, lacking the necessary infrastructure”.

Both Sizewell C and Hinkley Point C will use the new European Pressurised Water Reactor technology which has been deployed for the first time at a plant in Taishan majority-owned by CGN, with EDF holding 30pc.

The plant, which has been running since late 2018, was shut at the end of last month for “maintenance” due to cracked fuel rods, with small levels of radiation detected in cooling waters around the rods.

Sizewell C is expected to take between nine and 12 years to build.

Telegraph – Hinkley nuclear plant at risk from China crackdown

26 July 2021

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/07/26/hinkley-nuclear-plant-risk-china-crackdown/

Hinkley nuclear plant at risk from China crackdown

Hinkley Point C is due to come online in 2026, supplying 7pc of the nation’s electricity

The flagship of Britain’s new nuclear power fleet is under threat as the Government prepares curbs on Chinese involvement in critical national infrastructure.

Whitehall sources admitted last night that the £23bn Hinkley Point C project underway in Somerset could be jeopardised by plans to block China General Nuclear (CGN) from future UK projects.

The Hinkley reactor, Britain’s first in a generation, is being partially bankrolled by CGN as part of a wider deal with French company EDF to replace the UK’s aging nuclear plants.

Under Government proposals which have not been officially confirmed, CGN’s involvement in subsequent planned projects, in Suffolk and Essex, would end.

Government insiders said that there are concerns this could disrupt the linked deal under which CGN is developing Hinkley, where work is already significantly advanced.

Hinkley Point C is set to supply about 7pc of the nation’s electricity from mid- 2026. However, this could be pushed back if CGN pulls out.

CGN hopes its work on Hinkley and then Sizewell C station in Suffolk will be a stepping stone to opening its own plant in Bradwell, Essex, as part of a 2015 deal championed by George Osborne, then Chancellor.

Nuclear power generated more than 17pc of the UK’s electricity in 2020 and supporters argue it will become an ever more important source of stable energy to balance out growing use of intermittent wind and solar.

However, almost all of the ageing nuclear fleet is due to shut down by the end of this decade. EDF and CGN are the only developers committed to new plants in the UK, with others put off by the huge costs, technical challenges and long development times.

The Government’s move to curb China’s role, first reported by the Financial Times, comes amid rising concern about the emerging superpower’s crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong and its treatment of Uyghur dissidents. Boris Johnson is also kicking China’s telecoms maker Huawei out of Britain’s 5G network due to security fears.

Ministers are preparing to introduce legislation to Parliament that would allow nuclear power developers to recoup costs from household bills. This could spark a significant backbench rebellion from MPs concerned about China if CGN is involved.

Industry sources also suggested that EDF would find it easier to court pension funds and other institutional investors without the political risk of a major Chinese state partner.

The White House curtailed the ability of US firms to supply CGN in August 2019, and the Trump administration warned the UK against its involvement in this country’s nuclear industry.

CGN’s work on British nuclear power dates back to 2015 when prime minister David Cameron and Chinese president Xi Jinping hailed what was meant to be the start of a “golden era” between the two nations.

The company owns about a third of Hinkley Point C and has a 20pc development phase stake in Sizewell C, with an option to participate in the construction phase. Its own reactor design for Bradwell is going through UK regulatory approval, with CGN hoping it can then export this technology more widely.

The Times reported last night that the Government is considering buying an equity stake in Sizewell C as part of its moves to replace CGN, reversing a long-standing wish to keep nuclear build off the Government balance sheet.

Former Chancellor Philip Hammond said China is a “fact of life” and warned that excluding the country would put up costs for bill payers.

Mr Hammond, seen as a key supporter of the CGN deal when he was in government, said: “It’s possible to exclude China General Nuclear, from participating in the UK as a civil nuclear market, but the government should be honest with electricity consumers about what that will mean for their bills, and taxpayers about what it will mean for the taxpayer funding.

“You can say ‘we don’t like the Chinese’, but the Chinese are the only people who have an incentive to fund their risk a project of this nature because they’re trying to produce a demonstrator, which would then allow them to sell civil nuclear reactors elsewhere in developed countries.”

Stop Sizewell C, a campaign group in Suffolk, said the move to remove CGN “throws EDF’s funding problems into even sharper relief”.

It added: “The simple fact is that Sizewell C won’t go ahead without new investors.”

The Government has been in formal negotiations with EDF over Sizewell since December. It will gain stronger powers for it to intervene in civil nuclear deals in January 2022.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “Nuclear power has an important role to play in the UK’s low-carbon energy future, as we work towards our world-leading target to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050.

“All nuclear projects in the UK are conducted under robust and independent regulation to meet the UK’s rigorous legal, regulatory and national security requirements, ensuring our interests are protected.”

CGN and EDF declined to comment.

FT – China could quit UK nuclear projects if role threatened, experts warn

26 July 2021
https://www.ft.com/content/ada78301-0b2c-4bf5-bcd4-ea0cd55312ae

China could quit UK nuclear projects if role threatened, experts warn Effort to remove state-owned CGN from Sizewell C said to leave Hinkley Point and Bradwell exposed Pouring concrete at Hinkley Point C. China General Nuclear is a minority investor in the power station being built by France’s EDF © EDF/Latitude Photography Share on twitter (opens new window) Share on facebook (opens new window) Share on linkedin (opens new window) Share Save Jim Pickard and Nathalie Thomas JULY 26 2021 78 Print this page China General Nuclear is likely to walk away from the Hinkley Point C power station being built in Somerset if the Chinese state-owned nuclear company is forced out of future projects in the UK, industry experts warned on Monday. The Financial Times revealed that the British government was exploring ways to remove CGN from the consortium planning to build the new £20bn Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk. Ministers are also going cold on plans by CGN to build a plant at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex using its own reactor technology. The company is already a minority investor in the 3.2 gigawatt Hinkley Point nuclear power station, which France’s EDF is building. One nuclear industry executive warned that CGN could reassess its involvement with Hinkley Point. They pointed out there were four interlinked agreements between CGN, EDF and the government dating to 2015: Hinkley Point, Sizewell, Bradwell and the pursuit of regulatory approval for China’s reactor design. “Neither EDF nor the government can assume they can just deal with Sizewell in isolation,” the executive said. “If you open one agreement then you potentially open all four. Legally, you open one part of the agreement, you run the risk of opening all parts of the agreement.”  Steve Thomas, emeritus professor of energy policy at University of Greenwich, said CGN’s investment in Hinkley was designed to make a profit and help secure its plant at Bradwell. With both of those objectives in jeopardy, the company could quit the UK, he warned. Twice weekly newsletter Energy is the world’s indispensable business and Energy Source is its newsletter. Every Tuesday and Thursday, direct to your inbox, Energy Source brings you essential news, forward-thinking analysis and insider intelligence. Sign up here. The Chinese company is eager to get UK regulatory approval at Bradwell for its own Hualong One HPR1000 reactor in order to help market it in other countries. The reactor design is going through the UK’s rigorous approval process, with a decision expected in the second quarter of next year. But Thomas pointed out that with Hinkley’s budget having jumped from £14bn to as much as £22.5bn, it was no longer clear whether the consortium would make a profit. “I would have thought that would put it into lossmaking territory,” he said. “They may well be very happy for an excuse to get out of it,” Thomas added. “If Bradwell is off the agenda and Hinkley Point won’t make money, why stick around?” CGN declined to comment. Ministers would prefer a situation where CGN was replaced as a minority investor in Sizewell. The change in mood at the top of government reflects the rapid cooling of relations between London and Beijing — in contrast with attempts by former prime minister David Cameron to court investment from China. Recommended The FT ViewThe editorial board Safeguarding Britain’s nuclear power future Tim Yeo, a former Tory energy minister who chairs the New Nuclear Watch Institute, an industry-supported think-tank, said concerns about Chinese involvement in the UK nuclear power sector had been overstated. Any disruption or interference in its operations would close down all export opportunities elsewhere for CGN, he argued. “The notion that China would arbitrarily close down a plant which they had built in UK for some geopolitical reason is absurd,” he said. “They have nothing to gain and everything to lose by disrupting the supply of electricity from a nuclear plant which they had built here.” Alison Downes, of Stop Sizewell C, a pressure group, said the government’s position threw EDF’s funding problems for the plant into sharper relief: “The simple fact is that Sizewell C won’t go ahead without new investors.”

FT UK’s ageing reactors bring nuclear question to a head

14 July 2021
https://www.ft.com/content/3f2bfc76-5b74-437c-8b18-67f9cde991af

UK’s ageing reactors bring nuclear question to a head Early closure leaves gap in low-carbon generation as Britain seeks to cut emissions and secure energy supply Somerset’s Hinkley Point C plant is the UK’s only new nuclear power plant under construction © PA Share on twitter (opens new window) Share on facebook (opens new window) Share on linkedin (opens new window) Share Save Nathalie Thomas, Energy Correspondent JULY 14 2021 33 Print this page A remote area on England’s east coast, halfway between the seaside towns of Felixstowe and Lowestoft, is set to become the centre of debate about Britain’s future energy security. UK ministers are aiming to bring forward legislation in the autumn to support the financing of a 3.2 gigawatt nuclear power station in Sizewell, East Suffolk, which could generate electricity for 6m households. Ministers have been in formal negotiations with EDF about how to fund the proposed £20bn Sizewell C plant since December, and the government and the French state-backed utility have had discussions about replacing Britain’s ageing nuclear reactors for years. However, the question of whether Britain should build more large plants took on added urgency last month, when EDF closed the 1.1GW Dungeness B station in Kent seven years early. It also raised the prospect that other reactors may also be decommissioned ahead of schedule, owing to problems with their graphite cores. Dungeness B was one of eight nuclear power stations built in the UK between the late-1960s and mid-1990s and six more of these are due to retire before the end of 2030. Pylons carry electricity away from Dungeness nuclear power station in Kent © PA Some energy experts say this will leave a gap in Britain’s supplies of low-carbon electricity as the UK government strives to meet its 2050 “net zero” emissions target. According to the government’s climate advisers, Britain’s electricity system needs to be decarbonised by 2035 to reach that 2050 goal. Only one replacement plant, the 3.2GW Hinkley Point C in Somerset, is currently under construction after the UK government failed to reach agreement in 2019 with Japan’s Hitachi over financing a new plant in north Wales. Toshiba also scrapped plans in 2018 for a new nuclear station in Cumbria.  “The UK has made great strides in decarbonising its power sector in recent years but the forthcoming retirements of old nuclear stations could halt that progress, or even send it into reverse,” warns Simon Virley, lead energy partner at KPMG UK, who was the government’s director-general for energy markets and infrastructure between 2009 and 2015. Nuclear opponents dismiss these fears, though — arguing that several existing reactors had already been offline in recent years, and emissions still fell. For example, Dungeness B had not operated since September 2018 as EDF tried to solve problems that included corrosion in its pipework. “If there was [a capacity issue], what good is Sizewell going to do given it won’t come on line until 2034 according to EDF?” asks Stephen Thomas, emeritus professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich. Nuclear sceptics have long argued that money would be better spent on clean energy technologies, such as offshore wind, and reducing electricity demand through measures including insulation. Funding is likely to be key to whether any new plants go ahead. Financing for the proposed £20bn nuclear power station in Sizewell is yet to be confirmed © EDF Energy Hitachi decided its Wylfa Newydd scheme in Wales posed too big a commercial risk even though the UK government offered to take a one-third equity stake. Now, EDF’s hopes for Sizewell C rest on an agreement that involves a “regulated asset base” model, a mechanism that has never before been used for nuclear but is common in other infrastructure, including the Thames Tideway “super sewer” in London. Under a RAB model, consumers would pay towards a new plant through their energy bills long before any electricity is generated. Opponents of the model warn that consumers would also be on the hook for cost overruns. But nuclear executives insist the model would help to attract low-risk investors, such as pension funds, and cut the cost of capital of a new plant — a significant proportion of the budget. They suggest an agreement over financing Sizewell C could involve the UK government and EDF taking minority stakes to provide confidence to private investors, although the campaign group Stop Sizewell C has questioned how many pension funds are willing to back nuclear, given that several have expressed reservations. EDF Energy, the French utility’s UK division, says “there are plenty of investors . . . who have indicated their interest in financing Sizewell C” and Simone Rossi, its chief executive, told a Reuters event last month that legislation was “an essential prerequisite”.  Still, others remain privately sceptical given a consultation on a RAB model was launched two years ago with little progress since. Ministers have also acknowledged a RAB-financed nuclear plant could end up on the government balance sheet. Questions also remain over what role Chinese state-backed CGN will play in Sizewell C. It has a 20 per cent share during the development phase, but some backbench MPs have questioned China’s involvement in critical UK infrastructure. CGN declined to comment. Twice weekly newsletter Energy is the world’s indispensable business and Energy Source is its newsletter. Every Tuesday and Thursday, direct to your inbox, Energy Source brings you essential news, forward-thinking analysis and insider intelligence. Sign up here. The UK business department says it “is continuing to explore” a RAB funding model “alongside other delivery models”. Francis Livens, a professor at Manchester University’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, says there is a “problem of objectivity” in the debate around nuclear, as well as other energy technologies. A lot of “stereotypical stuff” such as electricity supply gaps dominate the debate, he argues — and rarely are technologies assessed for their overall potential to replace fossil fuels, such as also providing heat and producing hydrogen. Says Livens: “I’m not sure any of these energy technologies [including wind and solar] are being properly evaluated using a whole systems approach.”