Government’s hopes Sizewell C could provide ‘value for money’ are “pie in the sky”, say campaigners

For Immediate Release 14 December 2020

Government’s hopes Sizewell C could provide ‘value for money’ are “pie in the sky”, say campaigners

[SUFFOLK] The financial problems underlying the proposed new nuclear power station at Sizewell C are insurmountable, say local campaigners Stop Sizewell C, despite the government’s announcement today of negotiations with developer EDF. The government says it will explore funding the double-reactor plant through a ‘nuclear tax’ and consider a direct stake, subject to “a value for money deal” being achievable. [1] 

The government requires assurances that EDF has learned lessons at Hinkley Point, but none of this type of reactor being constructed in Europe are on time or budget. Hinkley Point is billions overspent, Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France also overspent and a decade late [2] and Sizewell C’s site next to protected habitats on an eroding coast will present different challenges to those at Hinkley. Huge questions surround who will pay for the inevitable cost overruns in any deal between the French-goverment owned developer and the UK. 

The Regulated Asset Base (or RAB) funding model suggested in the White Paper would require a levy on all electricity bills even before construction starts, to recompense private investors. Even consumers on ‘Green’ or ‘100% Renewable’ tariffs would have to shoulder this extra cost.

In the last week, Stop Sizewell C has been told by confidential sources that – if Sizewell C ever went ahead – China General Nuclear would withdraw from the construction phase, the government would take a 10% stake, EDF’s share would reduce to 10%, leaving at least £16 billion of the estimated £20 billion to be found. CGN’s withdrawal has been reported by the Daily Mail. Stop Sizewell C also opposes the project because it would have unacceptable impacts on host communities and east Suffolk’s fragile coast and natural environment, including internationally-famous RSPB Minsmere; it wouldn’t contribute to net zero until at least 2040 nor help ‘level up’ the UK. [3] 

Reacting to the Energy White Paper Stop Sizewell C [4] representatives said:

Alison Downes: “As Alok Sharma said, this is not a green light to build Sizewell C and the idea that it could provide value for money is “pie in the sky”. Costing at least £20 billion, Sizewell C remains too slow and expensive to help our climate emergency, and both the government and any pension funds considering the project must beware the reputational risk of investing in a still unproven reactor design that even the French are abandoning, [5] to be constructed on an eroding coastline, neighbouring the world famous Minsmere reserve.

Charles Macdowell: “The government’s financing ideas – which are still just ideas – will open a real can of worms. Both RAB and a direct stake in Sizewell C would suck vital funds away from renewable and storage  technologies that are already revolutionising our energy. Since both a direct stake and RAB go on the government’s balance sheet, they are also inextricably bound up in the ongoing saga of the UK’s transition out of the EU.” [6] 


Paul Collins: “EDF is more than a year from a decision on planning consent, and our energy landscape is transforming all the time. Just 18 months ago, then Business Secretary Greg Clark said the UK needed 40GW of ‘baseload capacity’ by 2050, [7] inferring that this would come from new nuclear, but none of the Climate Change Committee’s five energy scenarios published last week had more than 10GW; and three had just 5GW. [8] If Sizewell C went ahead, it would be obsolete before it was completed and interfere with the progress towards 80% renewable supply. Sizewell C is the wrong project in the wrong place: it should not be part of a truly green recovery and there is still time for the government to realise this.”


Opposition to Sizewell C is strong and growing as the impacts on local communities and the environment of the 10-12 year build become clearer,  alongside concerns that EDF’s claims of economic benefit are unproven. [9] Sizewell C is opposed by Suffolk MP Dan Poulter, thousands of individuals, [10] organisations such as the RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and dozens of Parish and Town Councils including Aldeburgh and Woodbridge. Suffolk County Council has stated it “cannot support” EDF’s proposals. More than 100 rural businesses [11] and over 60 influencers have sent letters of opposition to Ministers. [12] National Infrastructure Commission Chair Sir John Armitt [13] and Committee on Climate Change Chair Lord Deben [14] have both raised questions about the need for Sizewell C. 



  2. No country in Western Europe has any operating EPRs or new builds besides Hinkley Point C and the catastrophic Flamanville (France) and Olkiluoto (Finland) projects which are a decade behind schedule and multiple times overspent.
  3.  Information from EDF’s application for Development Consent: Funding Statement and Climate Change docs (page 33). See also our report and RSPB statement.
  4. Stop Sizewell C is a campaign group formed by local people in the community on the frontline of the project. We did not start out opposing Sizewell C but were driven to it after 8 years of EDF’s failed engagement and the destructive nature of its proposals. 
  5. The EPR has been described by Dr Paul Dorfman of UCL as “too complex to build to time and budget”. EDF will build no more of this design in France and aims to have a new EPR design by 2021,  but Sizewell C would be the old design.
  6. State aid is widely reported as one of the sticking points in Brexit negotiations
  8. page 29
  9. See an independent critique of EDF’s Economic Statement 
  10. In the last 2 weeks over 50,000 people have signed an RSPB petition opposing Sizewell C
  13. Sir John Armitt: “Hopefully by 2025, we will be able to rely on much smarter systems and won’t have to rely on nuclear” Quoted in 
  14. Lord Deben has described nuclear as a “transitional” energy source whose need reduces as grid-balancing improves. As reported in Utility Week