Government signals support for Sizewell C by seeking stake in project
Proposals to build a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast at Sizewell have taken a significant step forward as the government confirmed it is seeking to invest in the project.
It has said it will start talks with EDF Energy over investing in the power station – although a final decision on whether it can go ahead is still some way away, and subject to planning approval.
The government statement said the negotiations were part of its “options to enable investment in at least one nuclear power station by the end of this Parliament”
The energy giant is currently applying for planning permission for the 3.2-gigawatt plant, which could create thousands of new jobs during construction and operation if given the go-ahead.
However the proposal has prompted widespread local concern because of proposals to use large areas of environmentally-sensitive land which is part of the eco-system with the Minsmere Nature Reserve at its heart.
The government has also warned that it will have to be convinced about the economic benefits of the project.
In a statement, which also set out its Energy White Paper, the Government said: “This is the next step in considering the Sizewell C project, and negotiations will be subject to reaching a value-for-money deal and all other relevant approvals, before any final decision is taken on whether to proceed.
“The successful conclusion of these negotiations will be subject to thorough scrutiny and needs to satisfy the Government’s robust legal, regulatory and national security requirements.”
Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, EDF Energy’s Managing Director, Nuclear Development: “The Government’s decision to enter negotiations on Sizewell C is great news and further recognition of the vital role large scale nuclear will play in getting to net zero.
“The go-ahead for Sizewell C would bring the Green Industrial Revolution to life, creating thousands of British jobs and apprenticeships, and delivering a huge boost for thousands of nuclear supply chain companies up and down the country. It will be a project Britain can be proud of.
“We are eager to start discussions with the Government on a suitable financing model for the project and we look forward to the next phase of scrutiny of our plans by the Planning Inspectorate.
“Sizewell C will build on the great progress being made at Hinkley Point C and, as a copy, will benefit from lower construction and financing costs. We are confident that we can arrive at a funding solution which will provide value for money and help to lower energy bills for consumers.”
The proposals have already sparked widespread concern among local politicians with MPs Dr Therese Coffey and Dr Dan Poulter and both Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council saying they have major worries about the plans for the station – even though they are not opposed in principal to the aims of the project.
Alison Downes from the Stop Sizewell C Campaign did not feel today’s announcement was particularly significant: “We have known the government is in talks about this, but this does not take things forward.
“They are talking about whether they should take a small stake in the project – but there is still a very long way to go before any final permission is given. From that point of view I don’t think this changes things at all.”
But Terry Baxter, chief executive of Inspire Suffolk and a keen backer of the project, felt it was very significant: “This is the largest infrastructure project proposed for East Anglia and the government wants to show its support by investing in it.
“That will be very good for jobs in the area – giving real hope to people and families who need good, well-paid, work right here in Suffolk.”