Stop Sizewell C projects “Don’t Buy Sizewell C” to Boris Johnson in Manchester

6 October 2021.

For high resolution images see: (credit Stop Sizewell C)

[MANCHESTER] Stop Sizewell C last night projected a series of messages close to the Conservative Party Conference [1] to Boris Johnson ahead of today’s conference speech, urging him not to announce significant financial support for Sizewell C. It has been widely reported that the government is considering taking a direct stake in Sizewell C, as well as introducing legislation that would add a nuclear ‘tax’ onto already-stretched consumer bills. through a regulated asset base (RAB) financing model during construction, as an incentive to draw in new investors. [2]

Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C said: “Committing financial support for a project as slow, risky and expensive as Sizewell C, especially since the EPR reactor may not even work [3] is – to borrow expressions from the Chancellor – economically irresponsible, even immoral, given that taxpayers and consumers would be forced to pay for it. We say to the Prime Minister, Don’t buy Sizewell C. We can’t afford it, or afford to wait for it, so don’t waste our money on something that would be obsolete before it was completed. He should have the guts to build back faster and greener by supporting renewables, energy storage, clean heat and energy efficiency.” [4] 

Large-scale nuclear plants are considered by many experts to be too inflexible to be a good fit with renewable energy generation. According to Lord Deben, Chair of the Climate Change Committee Nuclear isn’t the best way of getting that base energy because you can’t turn it on and off: you have to use it all the time”. A Good Energy report by Energy Systems Catapult published in June 2021 found that “beyond the existing Hinkley Point C plant, new nuclear is both unnecessary to reach net zero and would be difficult to manage alongside such a large fleet of renewables.” [5]

Sizewell C is expected to cost at least £20 billion, [6] 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. [7] The planning examination concludes 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 said he hoped a Final Investment Decision could be made by the end of 2022. [8]



  1. The messages projected on Manchester One read “Don’t Buy Sizewell C – Too damaging, too costly, too risky”, “Build Back Greener, Faster – we can’t afford to wait for Sizewell C” and “Sizewell C is a taxing issue – we’ll all pay the £20 billion construction cost”. Designer Antony Easton, projection POW.
  2. 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. Over 85,000 people have signed a petition opposing use of the RAB for new nuclear projects. Major UK infrastructure investors Legal and General have said “no” to Sizewell C. Stop Sizewell C has also 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.
  3. EDF claims the EPR reactors at Taishan in China – the only two completed 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. The ONR needs to urgently establish if there is any link between this incident and the EPR design or use of high burn-up fuel, and assess the implications for Hinkley C. 
  4. During the 12 years it would take to construct, renewables would be built more quickly and cheaply and storage options developed. Here 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. It’s hard to imagine that money could be found to support all of these.
  5. See and and Good Energy (referenced above)
  6. 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.
  7. 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. 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.
  8. Financial Times