Suffolk Chamber's chief on why the case for Sizewell C is now stronger than ever
PUBLISHED: 11:40 05 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:02 06 February 2019
The chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, John Dugmore, explains why recent setbacks in the UK's nuclear ambitions has made the case for Sizewell C in Suffolk even more imperative.
Whilst I was writing this article, Hitachi confirmed its intention to pull out of the Wylfa nuclear power station project in Anglesey.
In a single instance, the national case for EDF Energy’s Sizewell C instantly became even more compelling.
If built, this new station will play a major role in providing the power needed by the country’s businesses and residents for decades to come. Indeed it is estimated that when operational, Sizewell C will produce enough electricity for six million homes.
Alongside the growing offshore windfarms, Sizewell C will consolidate the east of England in its role as the country’s energy coast.
Sizewell C also offers incredible opportunities for local businesses and local workers. The evidence for this can be found at EDF Energy’s Hinckley Point C power station, which is currently under construction. Sizewell C will be a pretty much identical duplicate of this Somerset station, albeit 20% cheaper to construct.
£465m-worth of contracts had been awarded to firms in the south west region, over 200 local suppliers have been commissioned to supply goods and services and that there had also been an impressive uptick in local people gaining employment on the project.
Suffolk Chamber has a close working relationship with EDF Energy and our belief is clear: the nuclear industry is good for Suffolk and in particular good for businesses here in Suffolk. It’s probably worth noting at this point that Sizewell B alone is worth £40million a year to the local economy.
The headline figures are startling. It is estimated that annual spend in the local economy will be £100m during construction and £40m during the station’s operational phase. 5,600 workers will be working on the site at the peak of the construction period, with 25,000 roles required overall.
Of course, that won’t be the end of the story since 900 permanent roles are likely to be needed once the station is producing energy, with a continuing demand for goods and services from local suppliers.
During the second consultation phase into the Sizewell C proposals, Suffolk Chamber urged EDF Energy to ensure that as many of these new roles created were secured for local workers. We also asked that the company took into consideration the need to maximise environmental protections in order to secure the long-term prosperity of the many tourist and leisure business along the Suffolk coast, protecting our cultural heritage, whilst clearly investing in much needed infrastructure to ensure that the new build can be delivered with the minimum impact on community. We are encouraged by the latest proposals and the Chamber will of course continue to work with EDF Energy to ask that these key issues remain important considerations in Stage 3 and beyond.
Suffolk Chamber is also running Sizewell C Supply Chain website (www.sizewellcsupplychain.co.uk) on behalf of EDF Energy. The site aims to make it as easy as possible for local companies to register their interest in providing goods and services to this mightily important project and to keep up-to-date with Sizewell C Supply chain news.
Remember, 80% of the work in building and running a nuclear power station comes from ‘non-nuclear’ businesses.
I’m delighted that over 1400 companies from many sectors and of all sizes have registered on the site. I would urge every business in Suffolk who hasn’t yet done so, to think about the opportunities that Sizewell C presents to them and sign up to the supply chain website sooner rather than later. Sizewell C promises to be a business power house as well as a new power station.
In addition, a new power station in Suffolk will be a further boost to improving the county’s skills and aptitude base, so sharpening our competitive advantage and attractiveness to inward investment.
EDF Energy is part way through the third consultation stage for this project. Suffolk Chamber is aware of the ongoing concerns raised on environmental and highways grounds, but fundamentally believes that as the company systematically looks to address these, Sizewell C would be great for the county – and the country.