Influencers Letter to Alok Sharma 31 March 2020

To: The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy

cc The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Minister of State, BEIS, Nadhim Zahawi, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, BEIS, The Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP, Peter Aldous MP, Dr Dan Poulter MP, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, EDF Energy

31 March 2020

Dear Secretary of State,

We write as individuals deeply concerned about EDF’s proposals to build twin nuclear reactors at Sizewell C. While we welcome EDF’s decision on 26 March to defer submitting its application for development consent “for a few weeks”, we ask you to instruct EDF to delay further until all coronavirus restrictions have been lifted and time and resources are available to focus fully on an application of this scale, because of its significant national and local impacts. The robustness of the DCO process would be severely compromised if there were any constraints on the Planning Inspectorate, Statutory Advisers, Local Authorities, Parish and Town Councils, Groups or individuals.

We additionally wish to emphasise our considerable and rising opposition to EDF’s damaging project. The Sizewell site is totally unsuitable, lying within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, hemmed in by protected habitats including RSPB Minsmere, and on an unstable and eroding coastline. The site is much smaller than government guidelines suggest is required for two reactors (two thirds the size of Hinkley Point C) and thanks to flooding caused by climate change, at risk of becoming an island by the time any plants are decommissioned or spent fuel is removed. The RSPB’s view is that Sizewell is not a suitable place to build a new nuclear power station, and that significant damage cannot be avoided or mitigated. The project is at odds with DEFRA’s 25 year plan to increase biodiversity.

HM government’s National Policy statement recognises that Sizewell is significantly more environmentally sensitive than other designated sites, and your statutory advisers – the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Marine Management Organisation – have expressed deep concerns to the Planning Inspectorate about EDF’S preparations for DCO.

Suffolk is poorly equipped to facilitate EDF’s delivery of this major project, lacking transport infrastructure and a significant local workforce with relevant skills. Thousands of workers from outside the region will have to be accommodated in a rural area, which – coupled with traffic congestion – will significantly impact tourism and other businesses in a region prized for its beauty, tranquility and dark, star-filled, skies. 

“Big nuclear” remains very expensive compared to the rapidly falling prices of other energy sources, and the poor construction record of EDF, including at Hinkley Point, means that it will be impossible for EDF to predict accurately how much Sizewell C will cost and how long it will take to build. Furthermore, located in the south of the UK, Sizewell C would not serve your objectives to “level up” the country. With more than 180 studies now published into 100% renewable energy scenarios, we question whether “big nuclear” remains a desirable part of the energy mix. While we welcome EDF’s recent statements about the realistic prospects of extending operations at Sizewell B by a further 20 years, we firmly believe that any investment in Sizewell C will suck valuable financial resources from better technologies, and therefore we cannot support this project.


Dr Andy Wood OBE DL, Chief Executive, Adnams plc

Jon and Lois Hunt, Heveningham Hall

James Hopkins, Executive Chairman, Hopkins Homes

William Kendall DL, Entrepreneur

Bill Turnbull, Broadcaster

Bill Nighy, Actor

Diana Quick, Actor

Maggi Hambling CBE, Painter and Sculptor

Matthew Freud, Head of Freud Communications

Libby Purves OBE, Broadcaster

Paul Greengrass, Film Director

David Morrissey, Actor, Director

The Duke of Grafton, Euston Estate

The Lord Marlesford DL, House of Lords

Caroline Cranbrook OBE, President of the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival

The Rt Hon Ben Gummer

Sir Kenneth Carlisle, former MP and Lady Carla Carlisle

Sir David Madel, former MP

Geoffrey Probert DL, President Suffolk Preservation Society

William Sieghart CBE, Entrepreneur 

Justin Dowley, Chairman, Melrose Industries plc

Clare Howes DL

Sir Christopher Howes, former CEO of Crown Estates

Caroline Slocock, Director of Civil Exchange,

Major-General (Rtd) John Sutherell CB, CBE 

Guy Heald, Chairman, Hotel Folk

Sir Michael and Lady Hopkins, Hopkins Architects

Cllr David Wood, Chair, Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership

Tim Rowan Robinson DL, Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival

Sir Charles Burrell, Knepp Castle Estate, Rewilding pioneer

Isabella Tree, Author and Travel Writer

Ruth Watson, Restaurateur and Hotelier

Robert Townshend, Townshend Landscape Architects

Richard Ellis, Chairman of Original Cottages

Julia Blackburn, Writer, FRSL

Hugh Brody, Anthropologist

Nick Burfield, former Policy Director, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

Michael Pritt, Owner, Wentworth Hotel, Aldeburgh

Sir Humphrey Burton CBE, Writer and Broadcaster 

Helen Atkinson Wood, Actor

John Morton, Writer

Jo Deakin, Journalist

Mark Whitby BSc, FICE, FREng, Hon FRIBA, former President, Institute of Civil Engineers

Theresa Tollemache, Director of Volga Linen

Christian Blackshaw, Concert Pianist

Edward Creasy, Corporate Chairman

Molly Dineen, Film Director

Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Writer, FRSL

Dan Franklin, Publisher

Rev. Canon Christine Redgrave 

Amanda Maxwell Dip RBS, TCPD, ARAD, Classical Ballet Dancer 

Anthony Silverstone, Consultant Gynaecologist 

Beverley Silverstone, Freelance Arts Administrator

Jan Etherington, TV Comedy Scriptwriter

Major Philip Hope-Cobbold DL, Glemham Hall

Plus 3 names who signed privately