EADT: Consultants challenge EDF over economic benefits and jobs Sizewell C will bring


Consultants challenge EDF over economic benefits and jobs Sizewell C will bring

PUBLISHED: 05:30 07 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:42 07 September 2020

Independent consultants have challenged the jobs and economic benefits that building a new twin reactor nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast will bring – labelling the claims as “exaggerated” and “unrealistic”.

EDF Energy has said that Sizewell C will give the county’s economy a £125million a year boost and create 25,000 job opportunities during the 10-year construction period and 900 skilled jobs when the power plant is operational.

But an independent review of EDF’s Economic Statement, assessing the impacts of Sizewell C on Suffolk’s economy, by research and analysis consultancy Development Economics – commissioned by the Stop Sizewell C campaign – has criticised key aspects of the research and evidence submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

EDF though insists its project will deliver investment, jobs, skills, education and training for decades to come.

And it says its Economic Statement in its planning application is fully compliant with relevant national policy.

Development Economics though claimed some aspects were “exaggerated” and “unrealistic”. It questioned EDF’s claim of up to “2,410 jobs for Suffolk residents”, saying this included people travelling from up to 90 minutes away, which covers large population centres in Norfolk and Essex.

It said these local workers will be the overwhelming source of lower skilled roles, expected to fill 90% of jobs in ‘Site Support’ – cleaners, bus drivers and security guards – compared with only 8% of roles in professional and management. At peak construction 76% of the workforce will come from further away still and will have to be accommodated in the area.

The consultants said workers recruited from existing businesses in the area would threaten “both profitability and, in some cases, viability of these businesses.”

They also contend that Sizewell C is unlikely to have a significant impact on local unemployment and believe that targets of hiring “up to 480 unemployed or economically inactive workers” locally are over-ambitious.

EDF though insists thousands of local people stand to gain well paid employment from the construction and operation of Sizewell C, just as they have at Sizewell B and at Hinkley Point C (HPC) in Somerset.

At peak, it says, Sizewell C will bring in around 2,400 jobs for Suffolk residents on the main site – including semi-skilled mechanical operatives, electricians, lifting operatives, welders, pipefitters, cabling operatives, fitters, steel-fixers, drivers, lifting operatives, timber and formwork operatives, maintenance and administrative staff, on top of the professional/managerial roles.

The company says there will be a wide range of jobs available in all areas of the project and it is working with Suffolk County Council to ensure the types of roles with genuine long term legacy for the region are promoted locally – including critical civils and mechanical and electrical engineering jobs.

It accepts some people will leave their current jobs to work for Sizewell C but employers are likely to fill such vacancies – a regular feature of running a business.

An EDF Energy spokesman said: “Sizewell C will deliver jobs, skills, education and training for decades to come while helping to tackle the climate crisis. Thousands of local people stand to gain well paid employment from the construction and operation of Sizewell C, just as we have experienced at Sizewell B and at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. We remain as committed as ever to making the most of Sizewell C for Suffolk.”

Development Economics suggests the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation’s (DMO) predicted losses of £24-40 million/year and 400 jobs will be an underestimate of the true impact on tourism.

Harry Young, chair of the DMO said: “EDF Energy’s tourism study produced similar and worrying findings to the 2019 DMO report, but with no economic impact calculation. The predicted reduction in visitor numbers suggests an existential threat to many businesses within this key industry. The vast project, and intended road led strategy, would impact the visitor experience and alter the way many perceive the area, and we know that the majority of visitors come for peace and tranquillity.

“If the project goes ahead, giving tourism businesses yet more challenge after the toughest of years, EDF’s promised mitigating Tourism Fund must be truly substantial. However most businesses would prefer to avoid harm rather than repair damage.”

EDF is working with organisations such as the local authorities on its proposals and mitigation including a Tourism Fund. It says previous studies have found no evidence that developments like Sizewell C deter tourists – indeed there is no evidence that Sizewell B had a substantial effect on the sector within the Suffolk Coastal area, and so far the HPC project shows that fears about the effects on tourism have not materialised.

In East Suffolk tourism accommodation will be used off season and spare capacity will be filled in peak months.

Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C said: “This report should give serious pause to any of our elected representatives who believe EDF’s hype that the benefits of Sizewell C will outweigh the negative impacts.”