EDF ignores appeals and submits Sizewell C application despite coronavirus lockdown

Campaigners say Sizewell C is the “wrong project at the wrong time in the wrong place” and EDF’s justification for pushing ahead is seriously flawed 

[SUFFOLK] Campaigners have slammed EDF for applying tomorrow for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to build Sizewell C while the country remains under coronavirus restrictions that will disadvantage the public and likely last for most of the rest of the year. EDF is proceeding in defiance of appeals from residents, communities and influencers [1] who fear that public engagement will be seriously compromised under social distancing. 

EDF is pushing ahead into a storm of controversy over China’s involvement [2] and questions about nuclear power’s role and flexibility, with Sizewell B currently running at 50% capacity. [3] EDF is attempting to justify its submission by citing the UK’s net zero target and claiming that construction is key to the UK’s post-covid economic recovery. [4] However EDF is dependent on government approval – as yet withheld – of a “regulated asset base” model to pay for Sizewell C. [5] With the economy faltering, energy projects will need more than ever to deliver value for money, not impose a nuclear tax on consumers. 

“EDF has ridden roughshod over the lockdown” said Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C. “With restrictions set to last many months there cannot be full public participation in the planning process – even the Planning Inspectorate does not yet know how it could work. And when we finally emerge from this crisis, will our cash-strapped government support a costly behemoth and a company with such a poor construction record, and poor choice of partner as EDF? Sizewell C would be an expensive bridge to nowhere: it will suck vital funds away from the technologies and projects that are more capable of truly transforming our energy landscape.”

Stop Sizewell C’s Paul Collins said: “EDF is cynically pushing on because the case for Sizewell C is weakening daily. For EDF to say it will boost economic recovery when the project is far from shovel-ready – with neither planning consent nor the means to finance it – is astonishing. It will be at least 15 years before Sizewell C is carbon neutral, and the unsuitability and sensitivity of the site makes any argument in favour of construction as a means of economic recovery frankly insulting. With unprecedented concerns from the Environment Agency and Natural England [6] and with 300 unresolved issues with statutory consultees, [7] Sizewell C is simply the wrong project in the wrong place.”

Charles Macdowell said: “Over the last eight years, EDF has totally failed to address the very reasonable concerns of local people about this huge project. It can’t get the 10m tonnes of materials it needs here other than mainly by road, it can’t employ enough local people to benefit the area, and it will devastate tourism, businesses and everyday life in this quiet rural area. The timing of EDF’s application could not be more inappropriate; the company must surely be aware of the irony of applying to build two new nuclear reactors whilst being paid to turn off one it already has.”


  1. 60 influencers wrote to the BEIS Secretary of State Alok Sharma on 31 March. Their letter was published in The Times on 28 April. For full text see – https://stopsizewellc.org/influencers-beis-31march2020/. On the same day 53 east Suffolk Town and Parish Councils wrote to EDF: https://stopsizewellc.org/campaigners-urge-no-new-action-on-sizewell-c-until-virus-crisis-over/
  2. See The Sunday Times 24 May https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-great-china-dilemma-6rdmhw3wl. The Prime Minister has ordered a review on how to restrict inward Chinese investment. See https://www.ft.com/content/e2730a94-5307-4e2b-b5f5-3dcf775bb930
  3. National Grid is currently paying EDF to run Sizewell B at half power for 6 weeks whilst energy demand is low. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/big-is-not-so-beautiful-in-grid-talks-to-power-down-8w0qxbtgg. Employees have privately admitted they are concerned it could be asked to turn off altogether.
  4. In a letter to 54 Town and Parish Councils who had written to ask EDF to delay, the company said: “The Government regards construction as key to our economic recovery and we have enclosed a copy of a letter from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for your reference. We want to play our part in the recovery of Suffolk’s economy at the end of this crisis.” https://stopsizewellc.org/core/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/EDF-DCO-submission-Letter-to-Parishes-03.04.20.pdf
  5. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51733117
  6. Serious concerns were expressed by DEFRA agencies to the Planning Inspectorate on 20 January. See https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/sizewell-c-new-nuclear-power-station/?ipcsection=advice&ipcadvice=56199ac81e
  7. Outstanding issues with Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council as at Stage 3 consultations.