Government Net Zero strategy lacks specific commitment to Sizewell C

For immediate release, 19 October 2021.

Government Net Zero strategy lacks specific commitment to Sizewell C

 

[EAST SUFFOLK] Stop Sizewell C notes that despite speculation there is no specific financial support committed for large scale nuclear in today’s Net Zero Strategy, [1]  let alone Sizewell C, beyond a restated intention to take a Final Investment Decision on one large scale nuclear project by the end of this Parliament “subject to value for money and relevant approvals.” The strategy does say the government plans to establish a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model, but there is no more information on funding, perhaps until the Spending Review. 

 

Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C said “Our message to government ministers today remains ‘don’t buy Sizewell C’. It’s too damaging, slow and risky and expensive; it may not even work [2] and it’s certainly not green, so don’t waste either your energy and our money on something that would be obsolete before it was completed. [3] Additionally, however you look at it, RAB spells TAX, adding to already stretched energy bills and putting the British public on the hook for cost overruns and delays. [4] 85,000 people have already said they oppose RAB, and we predict that opposition is going to grow.” [5]

 

Paul Collins of Stop Sizewell C said: “Sizewell C still doesn’t have planning consent, and may never get it. The negative impacts of the Sizewell project, which far outweigh those at Wylfa in Anglesey where the Planning Inspectorate recommended refusal, should lead to the same result here. [6] It is vitally important that the government takes an objective view of the impacts of Sizewell C, or the faith of local communities in due process – already stretched to breaking point – will be destroyed. Britain should build back faster and greener by focusing on renewables, energy storage, clean heat and energy efficiency.”

 

Media reports yesterday cited government insiders as saying that Sizewell C was front-runner to win funding support [7] and today’s reported breakfast meeting between Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and EDF’s Jean Bernard Levy seemed designed to confirm this assumption. [8] 

Sizewell C is expected to cost at least £20 billion, [9] and significant concerns remain about its location on a fragile eroding coastline, in an area with limited infrastructure and where no long term water supply has yet been identified. [10] The planning examination ended on 14 October. The Secretary of State would be expected to rule on planning consent by mid April 2022, with decisions on site licenses and permits likely to follow later in the year. EDF’s Simone Rossi has said he hoped a Final Investment Decision could be made by the end of 2022. [11]

 

High resolution images of Stop Sizewell C protests are available (please credit Stop Sizewell C)

  1. Projected messages to the Conservative Party Conference https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/15xoh09StJW3YVcHCtD1xknxsRn_dHahB
  2. Mass protest on Sizewell beach, September 2021. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1mEdfobUmRU1hp6qDG-I1DMn8p-XBNtKC 

 

Notes

1.https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1026655/net-zero-strategy.pdf 

 

  1. 2. EDF claims the EPR reactors at Taishan in China – the only two completed EPRs anywhere in the world – prove the technology works, yet Taishan I has fuel failure after only 3 years of commercial operation. A Freedom of Information request reveals that The Office of Nuclear Regulation has access to very little information about the cause or implications for Hinkley C. 

 

  1. During the 12 years Sizewell C would take to construct, renewables would be built more quickly and cheaply and storage options developed. There are increasing numbers of credible, affordable energy models that exclude Sizewell C eg Energy Systems Catapult found that further nuclear power would disrupt and diminish the overall economic value of a more flexible electricity system championed by the National Infrastructure Commission; Imperial College’s analysis met system security standards without Sizewell C and noted that new nuclear at plausible prices led to increased consumer bills. The most ambitious decarbonisation scenarios of both National Grid ESO and the Climate Change Committee do not include Sizewell C; indeed National Grid’s “Leading the Way” scenario is net negative for CO2 emissions by 2032, at least two years before Sizewell C would be on line. If, despite the above, the government is determined to build new nuclear capacity, it should look at other options, such as Small Modular Reactors which could be delivered with less significant construction impacts, and more suitable sites such as Wylfa, which would make a greater contribution to levelling up the UK

 

  1. The Regulated Asset Base model would expose consumers to construction and cost overruns and add to rising energy bills 10-12 years before any power. A RAB-type model for a cancelled plant in the US (Summer in South Carolina) is costing ratepayers $2.3bn, and for another, Vogtle in Georgia, whose costs ballooned, the power company is being allowed to pass a further $2.1 billion in overspend on to consumers. Major UK infrastructure investors Legal and General have said “no” to Sizewell C and we have secured similar statements from Prudential, Nest pensions and Phoenix Group, owners of Standard Life and Sun Life (correspondence available on request). China General Nuclear’s removal from the project has not yet been achieved. The project remains subject to value for money assessments amid demands the industry make cost savings of 30%. There is little evidence that nuclear electricity can compete cost-wise with renewables. Analysis by Professor Steve Thomas of Greenwich University concluded that it would be decades before EDF’s claim that power from Sizewell C would reduce to £60/kwh was realised. 

 

  1. Sum of Us petition

 

  1. The Planning Inspectorate recommended Wylfa be refused because of environmental impacts. 

 

  1. Daily Telegraph

 

  1. 8. BBC

 

  1. 9. EDF’s estimated cost is £20bn but is “illustrative and non-binding”. EDF is reassessing the cost but a revised cost assessment will not be available until after the planning examination.

 

  1. The Sizewell site is considered the most environmentally sensitive in the National Policy Statement EN-6, being wholly within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB. Sizewell C would permanently take around 10 football pitches of rare SSSI habitat at Sizewell Marshes and the RSPB says it could be “catastrophic for wildlife” at Minsmere. Both the RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust oppose Sizewell C. At a meeting with the Environment Agency on 28 September 2021, coastal defences were named as an outstanding issue of concern. EDF has been forced to propose a water desalination plant for the period of constructing Sizewell C, and does not yet have an identified long-term water supply.

 

  1. Financial Times