Government ‘close’ to giving Sizewell C green light, reports say

A CGI of what the Sizewell C nuclear power station will look like Picture: EDF Energy

A CGI of what the Sizewell C nuclear power station will look like Picture: EDF Energy - Credit: Archant

The government is “close” to giving the £20billion Sizewell C nuclear power station the green light, it has been reported.

Talks with French energy giant EDF, who are behind the plans, have intensified in recent weeks after the collapse of projects in Anglesey and Cumbria when Japanese firms Hitachi and Toshiba pulled out, according to a BBC report.

It is said that the move has also been made ahead of the release of a detailed government white paper in late November which will attempt to set out the course of UK energy policy for decades to come.

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The deadline for locals to register as interested parties has now passed and the next stage for the project, set to begin on November 16, is a consultation process on a number of significant changes, which aim to cut the number of lorries on Suffolk’s roads and curb its impact on the environment.

The next stage in the process will be a public examination, which is unlikely to start until 2021.

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The huge nuclear station is hoped by the government to provide low-carbon electricity to help reach the needs of the country.

A sister power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset is already under construction.

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The project is expected to create thousands of jobs in the region, with more than 1,400 people having registered their interest.

However, local groups have battled against the plans which they say will have a negative impact the region’s environment and road networks.

Cllr Craig Rivett, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development at East Suffolk Council said: “We are aware of media reports indicating that the government intends to approve the construction of Sizewell C New Nuclear Build.

“East Suffolk Council welcomes this development because it will bring jobs and investment to our area - however we would want to continue to work closely with EDF, the government and others, as set out in our response to the Planning Inspectorate.

“We want to ensure the impacts on our communities are minimised and that there will be a legacy to make our area even better for residents, business and visitors.”

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While Alison Downes, Stop Sizewell C said: “No one should assume Sizewell C is now a foregone conclusion.

“There are numerous obstacles, including very serious concerns from DEFRA agencies like Natural England, which says it would not be lawful to permit the project as proposals stand, and no guarantees that £20 billion can be found or the RAB funding model legislated for.

“By the time these issues are resolved - if indeed they can be - our energy landscape will have changed yet again and Sizewell C will be shown as too slow and expensive to help our climate emergency. ”

“Meanwhile opposition is strong and growing, encompassing a wide range of stakeholders.”

However, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said the news was positive for employment in the area.

He said: “We would warmly welcome the government’s go-ahead for Sizewell C, as indicated by media reports today, as it would tick a number of key boxes that will benefit the post-pandemic, post-Brexit UK economy.

“The development of the site on the Suffolk coast would create a source of low carbon and reliable energy, as well as a new generation of skilled ‘green’ employment. It will enhance the UK’s energy security at a time of challenging international relations.

“We understand that the construction of the new nuclear power station could generate up to 25,000 jobs during construction and at least 1,000 apprenticeships. An estimated 2,500 businesses in the supply chain would also benefit.

“It would provide 900 operational jobs during the 60 years it is expected to be in service.

“This would only be good news as the UK employment market continues to be seriously battered by the impact of Covid-19.

“What this would also do is create a skills bridge from Hinkley Point, being constructed in Somerset, to Sizewell that ensures that the skills and the knowledge that have been acquired on the initial project can be transferred to Sizewell and are not lost to the country’s skill base.

“It would also end a period of uncertainty and setbacks for the UK nuclear industry – the latest being Hitachi’s decision last month to withdraw from the Wylfa nuclear power project on Anglesey.

“We are also waiting for the government’s much-delayed energy White Paper which must show how the UK reaches its pledge of net-zero carbon emissions across all forms of energy by 2050. This must include nuclear power and renewables, such as wind power.”

Pete Wilkinson, chair of Together Against Sizewell C, said: “Opposition is widespread and the government has a responsibility to recognise that we are in an environmental crasis and can’t afford to concrete over our areas of outstanding natural beauty.”

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