The Times 23 June: Sizewell all at C

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Exciting times. Tomorrow’s the deadline for the planning inspectorate to allow or reject the application from France’s EDF and China’s CGN to build Sizewell C: the nuclear disaster planned for the Suffolk coast. Spoiler alert: it’ll be a miracle if the project falls at that hurdle, radioactive though it is. It just starts the planning process.

Yet at least it means EDF and CGN will have to make public their detailed plans for the 3,200-megawatt nuke. And that’ll include their view of the risk of the plant being marooned in the sea, thanks to climate change and coastal erosion.

Some experts reckon Sizewell C is at “high risk” of flooding. They include Nick Scarr, from the Nuclear Consulting Group, a collection of academics and experts. The consulting engineer believes Sizewell C is in a “dangerous location”, a position set out in a peer-reviewed paper. But, when his views were reported here almost a fortnight ago, EDF dismissed them. It claimed his analysis of the protective effects of the offshore Sizewell-Dunwich bank and a coralline crag was both confused and wrong.

EDF made its point in a background briefing, since when it has repeatedly refused to provide any on-the-record statement to back its opinion. So, having given the company plenty of time, here’s one conclusion to draw. That Mr Scarr is bang-on. As he points out, “all the spent fuel generated by Sizewell C will be stored onsite in a high-risk flood zone”, potentially for more than a century.

EDF will have to respond to this in its planning application. So there’s no reason for its high-handed carry-on. How untrustworthy does it want to look? Big nuclear’s already toxic enough: exploding costs, endless delays, pricey electricity and lethal waste. To that, Sizewell C adds China and flood risk. The inspectorate should really save everyone the trouble and can the project now.”