PM’s 10 point plan offers no green light for Sizewell C, but campaigners reject large nuclear’s inclusion in a green industrial revolution
[SUFFOLK] Campaigners and local communities were buoyed today that there was no green light given to Sizewell C – despite earlier reports – in the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a green industrial revolution. The plan, which included broad points but was lacking in detail, restated the government’s existing support for nuclear energy and announced £525 million in funding towards large and small reactors, including research and development for new advanced modular reactors.
Reacting to the 10 Point Plan, Stop Sizewell C  representatives said:
Alison Downes: “Despite heavy briefing by EDF and the nuclear industry, the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan has given no green light to Sizewell C, nor any specifics about how it would be funded. £525 million split between large, small and advanced reactors is a drop in the ocean compared to the £20 billion cost of Sizewell C. Of course we continue to wait for the Energy White Paper, but Sizewell C remains a ridiculously expensive project that won’t contribute to net zero until at least 2040, won’t help ‘level up’ the UK and threatens RSPB Minsmere.  Quite simply, Sizewell C has no place in a truly green recovery and there is still time for the government to realise this.”
Charles Macdowell: “If EDF were hoping this announcement would give the go-ahead to Sizewell C, they will be sorely disappointed. Even with the Prime Minister’s restatement of his support for nuclear energy, history has shown that it isn’t easy to deliver on political promises to build such projects.  Nuclear may be the third point in the PM’s plan but Sizewell C is neither green nor clean, and conflicts with his ninth point of “protecting and restoring our natural environment”, given the threats it poses to Suffolk’s internationally-famous wildlife habitats.”
Paul Collins: “The Prime Minister’s announcement coincides with EDF launching yet more consultations in an attempt to make their proposals more palatable.  The primary focus is traffic and, whilst all improvements are welcome – should Sizewell C ever go ahead – EDF have grossly misunderstood the views of local people if it thinks reducing HGVs will appease us. We are alarmed at the major concerns of Government agencies  and the unsuitability and sensitivity of the site next to protected habitats and on an eroding coastline makes any argument in favour of construction as a means of economic recovery frankly insulting. Moreover, this may be the last outing for this failed reactor design. EDF is already designing a simpler, cheaper version of the EPR for France, leaving the UK with a design that no one else wants.  Sizewell C is simply the wrong project in the wrong place.”
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.  Sizewell C is opposed by Suffolk MP Dan Poulter, thousands of individuals,  organisations such as the RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and dozens of Town and Parish Councils including Aldeburgh and Woodbridge. Suffolk County Council has stated it “cannot support” EDF’s proposals. More than 100 rural businesses  and over 60 influencers have sent letters of opposition to Ministers.  National Infrastructure Commission Chair Sir John Armitt  and Committee on Climate Change Chair Lord Deben  have both raised questions about the need for Sizewell C.
- 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.
- Information from EDF’s application for Development Consent: Funding Statement and Climate Change docs (page 33). See also our report www.stopsizewellc.org/sizewell-c-and-climate-change/ and RSPB statement.
- In 1979 a plan was announced for the CEGB to build one PWR per year from 1982 but, after 16 years, Sizewell B was the only PWR built and by the early 1990s the rest had been dropped as uneconomic. In 2008 the UK government gave the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations to be built. Hinkley Point C, in conjunction with Sizewell C, was expected to contribute 13% of UK electricity at an estimated cost of £24 per MWh (Areva/EDF). 12 years later only Hinkley Point C is under construction with a guaranteed electricity cost of £92.5 per MWh (at 2012 prices) and inflation proofed. Hitachi and Toshiba have both pulled out of projects at Moorside, Wylfa and Oldbury.
- After applying for planning consent on 27 May, EDF announced on 15 October it would be changing its proposals, with new public consultations planned for 18 November – 18 December. This will delay the consenting process, with a decision by the BEIS Secretary of State not expected until early 2022.
- Natural England says it would not be lawful to permit the project as proposed. Additionally the Environment Agency says EDF has “knowingly chosen to submit a Flood Risk Assessment which is neither supported by adequate modelling, nor demonstrates that the site, its users, and neighbouring areas will be safe in the event of a flood” and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is “not yet satisfied” that Sizewell C can be constructed and operated without compromising the decommissioning of Sizewell A.
- 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. The EPR has been described by Dr Paul Dorfman of UCL as “too complex to build to time and budget”. EDF aims to have a new EPR design by 2021, but Sizewell C would be the old design.
- See an independent critique of EDF’s Economic Statement www.stopsizewellc.org/economic-impacts/
- 19,000 people have signed an active petition opposing Sizewell C – www.stopsizewellcpetition.com
- 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 https://utilityweek.co.uk/treasury-still-unconvinced-rab-model-nuclear/
Lord Deben has described nuclear as a “transitional” energy source whose need reduces as grid-balancing improves. As reported in Utility Week http://www.utilityweek.co.uk/lord-deben-politicians-finally-grasped-reality-climate-change/