Campaigners question Sizewell benefits after positive Hinkley C report

The benefits of Sizewell C have been questioned by campaigners

The benefits of Sizewell C have been questioned by campaigners - Credit: Archant

Campaigners opposed to the planned Sizewell C nuclear power station have questioned the likely benefits of the project despite a report highlighting the positive socio-economic impact of a similar scheme in Somerset. 

The Hinkley Point C (HPC) Socio-Economic Impact Report showed £4.1billion of revenue had been delivered for the economy in the southwest so far, compared with an original target of £1.5bn, while wages and local productivity had also received a boost. 

The findings were welcomed by representatives of a Suffolk business group, a charity and developers EDF, but action group Stop Sizewell C doubted whether the HPC economic boom could be replicated with Sizewell C.

The construction site for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station site 

The construction site for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station site - Credit: EDF ENERGY

The HPC reports shows that Bridgwater, the closest large town to the Hinkley site, is now outperforming major regional cities in terms of productivity, while Sedgemoor district is seeing the largest growth in household income of any area within Devon and Somerset and above the regional average.

More than 1,400 companies in the southwest are now involved in building Hinkley Point C, with 14,400 jobs expected to be supported. The project has trained 922 apprentices, and is on track to hit its target of hiring 1,000 apprentices during construction later this year.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce - Credit: Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “These latest figures from Hinkley Point C show what we can achieve here in Suffolk and East Anglia regarding supply chain opportunities to support economic growth.   

“Our supply chain engagement team are working with almost 2,000 businesses, who are eager to get started, to get them fit and ready to seize the huge supply chain opportunities that the Sizewell C project will bring to our region.”

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Humphrey Cadoux Hudson, Sizewell C managing director, said: “Just like our sister project in Somerset, Sizewell C will deliver well-paid employment and a boost in education leaving a legacy of skills for the region for decades to come.”

Via a Deed of Obligation, Sizewell C has already agreed a package of £250m-plus to be invested in key areas such as a community fund and in employment and skills and the environment.

Terry Baxter, chief executive of Inspire Suffolk

Terry Baxter, chief executive of Inspire Suffolk - Credit: Simply C Photography

This includes the creation of a Jobs Service, £200,000 for outreach work through a partnership with Inspire Suffolk and Access Community Trust, plus early apprenticeships being placed in welding, pipefitting, project controls, formwork carpentry, and surveying.

Terry Baxter, chief executive of young people’s charity Inspire Suffolk, said Sizewell was delivering a skills and training boost for young people. 

He said: “Sizewell C will be a catalyst for positive change for some of our most vulnerable young people in the region.”

Alison Downes, from Stop Sizewell C

Alison Downes, from Stop Sizewell C - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

But Stop Sizewell C representative Alison Downes said the Hinkley report did not take into account income lost by other businesses in the area, especially tourism and the effect of taking staff from local firms to work on the power station. 

She said the southwest was on a "different scale" having five times as many businesses, while there would also be negative consequences for the local environment. 

She added: "Any massive construction project will spend money, but the Hinkley economic area in the southwest has five times the businesses and workforce of Suffolk and Norfolk.  

“To cut risk and costs we know Hinkley C's supply chain and experienced workers will be needed at Sizewell, so we dispute claims that the two sites are the same.  

“The loss of visitors and loss of workers to the project will also mean a multi-million-pound hit to existing local businesses including tourism, house-building and offshore wind.  

“And of course, there are huge impacts on the quality of life, housing availability and the environment from the largest building site in Europe."