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Still no date for Sizewell C consultation

PUBLISHED: 16:41 27 January 2016 | UPDATED: 19:20 27 January 2016

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C.

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C.

Archant

EDF is playing down speculation that a decision expected to trigger the launch of the next round of public consultation over plans for Sizewell C has been delayed.

The final investment decision for Hinkley Point C in Somerset has been expected for some time following the announcement in October last year of significant Chinese investment in the £18billion project.

EDF has always maintained the go-ahead for Hinkley would trigger the launch of the long-awaited next phase in Sizewell C consultations.

It was widely expected the Hinkley decision would be made at a board meeting yesterday but it appears to have been postponed to the next meeting, thought to be scheduled for February 16.

The reason is understood to be problems in finalising the full investment after a trade union representative on EDF’s board drew up a list of 15 concerns, mostly over finance.

There is also concern about the spiralling cost and construction delays at Flamanville, France, where EDF, also suffering as a result of tumbling energy prices, is already building a European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), the type proposed for both Hinkley and Sizewell.

However, a senior EDF official would only say yesterday that the twin EPRs which the company plans to build at Hinkley Point would be “launched soon”.

The official said: “We have taken the time needed to prepare for the construction of two EPRs at Hinkley Point. The project is ready for a final investment decision to be taken.

“When it is well advanced and before construction has ended, and when everyone sees from Flamanville that the EPR is an exceptional reactor, then we will be able to bring in other investors, as was foreseen a few years ago.”

Nuclear industry critics, who regard plans for UK nuclear expansion as poorly designed and a waste of money, say a delay in decision-making came as no surprise.

Residents in east Suffolk are frustrated over the long wait for the next stage in Sizewell C consultation. The first stage was launched in November 2012.

Stage two, which will help settle uncertainties over a range of issues, including construction traffic and site of a workers’ hostel, is expected to take between 18 months and two years to complete and then a formal development application has to be drawn up.

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