Celebrities and leading business people ask government to stop Sizewell C consent bid
PUBLISHED: 10:55 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:41 29 April 2020
Sixty leading business people, artists and well-known public figures have today written to the government asking for action to delay the application to build Sizewell C until after the coronavirus crisis is over.
Actors Bill Nighy, Helen Atkinson Wood and Diana Quick, broadcasters Bill Turnbull and Libby Purves, artist Maggi Hambling, and film director Paul Greengrass were among those who added their signatures to a letter to Business Secretary Alok Sharma.
Other leading figures included Dr Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams, Hopkins Homes executive chairman James Hopkins, restaurateur and hotelier Ruth Watson, Lady Caroline Cranbrook, Lord Marlesford, the Duke of Grafton, and several former MPs including Ben Gummer.
The Stop Sizewell C campaign co-ordinated the letter from the group of influencers – calling for the government to delay EDF Energy’s Development Consent Order (DCO) until after lockdown.
The group also highlighted their opposition to the project for a new £14billion twin nuclear reactor on the Suffolk coast, citing the harm it would do to tourism and other businesses, the landscape and wildlife in an area “prized for its beauty, tranquility and dark, star-filled, skies”.
MORE: Growing concern over EDF plans to submit DCO
Actor Bill Nighy, who used to live at Theberton and Eastbridge, said: “It is beyond belief that EDF is pressing forward during these terrible and uncertain times with a project so misguided, and which even the government’s own advisers find deeply concerning.
“If Sizewell C is allowed to go ahead, we will be left with an outdated form of energy that will not fit to any degree in our new world, and this internationally famous environment will be desecrated.
“This is a time to protect our ecosystems, not shatter them. It is also a time, I think everyone will agree, to finally listen to science rather than big business. If these times have nothing to recommend them, let us hope at least that our experience will inform our future in a positive way and allow us to avoid the blunders of the past.”
Andy Wood, CEO of Adnams, which employs at least 800 people through its brewery, hotels and 50 pubs, said Sizewell C would “significantly impact” his business.
He said: “I signed this letter because it has become increasingly evident to me that if there were not already two nuclear power stations at Sizewell, no-one would consider building something the size of Sizewell C here. Suffolk is poorly equipped to facilitate EDF’s delivery of this major project, lacking transport infrastructure and a significant local workforce with relevant skills.”
Former Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “When I was a Suffolk MP, EDF were at pains to say how they listened to the community, and acted. Submitting a Development Consent Order for Sizewell C – which will have significant local and national impacts – during this coronavirus crisis is not in keeping with that pledge.
“Our councils and government need to focus on keeping essential services running, and for local people – many of whom are very anxious about Sizewell C and would wish to be fully engaged – dealing with the DCO at a time when they are scared for themselves or vulnerable relatives, are dealing with sickness or even bereavement, or may have lost their jobs and have financial worries, will be extremely difficult and potentially an intolerable additional burden.”
A spokesman for EDF Energy said: “EDF announced a delay to the Sizewell C planning application on March 26 because of the coronavirus. We understand the need for all interested parties to participate in the examination of our planning application, and fully encourage them to do so. The Suffolk local authorities stated in a letter on 9 April (issued with a press release): ‘… we are supportive of you (EDF) submitting your application for the Development Consent Order (DCO) in the next few weeks and commencing the initial 28-day period for PINS to assess whether to accept your application’.
“It is important to stress that the examination stage of the planning application process is unlikely to commence for approximately 5-6 months.
“Two stages have to happen first – the Planning Inspectorate has to undertake a 28-day internal assessment. It then runs a pre-examination phase when people are encouraged to read the proposals online or in leaflets EDF will distribute. This lasts at least a further 28 days, but EDF will ask the Planning Inspectorate to extend it to provide more time than usual. Only after this will the Planning inspectorate begin an examination phase to seek feedback from consultees.
“Sizewell C will provide a much needed boost to skills, training and well paid employment. 64% of the construction cost for Hinkley Point C is being spent with UK companies and Sizewell C will further extend this investment being made in Britain. It is widely recognised by Trade Unions and the Chamber of Commerce that the project will help the UK’s economic recovery in the coming months.
“Sizewell was identified by Government as a strategically suitable site for a new nuclear power station following decades of low carbon generation on the Suffolk coast.
“The station will take approximately 10 years to build with about 3-4 years of peak construction activity. Our proposals have been shaped by the feedback from local residents leading to significant changes since we started consultation in 2012, such as a reduction in the size of the accommodation campus and additional land for ecology.”
Dear Secretary of State,
We write as individuals deeply concerned about EDF’s proposals to build twin nuclear reactors at Sizewell C. While we welcome EDF’s decision on 26 March to defer submitting its application for development consent “for a few weeks”, we ask you to instruct EDF to delay further until all coronavirus restrictions have been lifted and time and resources are available to focus fully on an application of this scale, because of its significant national and local impacts. The robustness of the DCO process would be severely compromised if there were any constraints on the Planning Inspectorate, Statutory Advisers, Local Authorities, Parish and Town Councils, Groups or individuals.
We additionally wish to emphasise our considerable and rising opposition to EDF’s damaging project. The Sizewell site is totally unsuitable, lying within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, hemmed in by protected habitats including RSPB Minsmere, and on an unstable and eroding coastline. The site is much smaller than government guidelines suggest is required for two reactors (two thirds the size of Hinkley Point C) and thanks to flooding caused by climate change, at risk of becoming an island by the time any plants are decommissioned or spent fuel is removed. The RSPB’s view is that Sizewell is not a suitable place to build a new nuclear power station, and that significant damage cannot be avoided or mitigated. The project is at odds with DEFRA’s 25 year plan to increase biodiversity.
HM government’s National Policy statement recognises that Sizewell is significantly more environmentally sensitive than other designated sites, and your statutory advisers - the Environment Agency, Natural England and Marine Management Organisation - have expressed deep concerns to the Planning Inspectorate about EDF’S preparations for DCO.
Suffolk is poorly equipped to facilitate EDF’s delivery of this major project, lacking transport infrastructure and a significant local workforce with relevant skills. Thousands of workers from outside the region will have to be accommodated in a rural area, which - coupled with traffic congestion - will significantly impact tourism and other businesses in a region prized for its beauty, tranquility and dark, star-filled, skies.
Furthermore, located in the south of the UK, Sizewell C would not serve your objectives to “level up” the country. With more than 180 studies now published into 100% renewable energy scenarios, we question whether “big nuclear” remains a desirable part of the energy mix. While we welcome EDF’s recent statements about the realistic prospects of extending operations at Sizewell B by a further 20 years, we firmly believe that any investment in Sizewell C will suck valuable financial resources from better technologies, and therefore we cannot support this project.
Dr Andy Wood OBE DL, Chief Executive, Adnams plc
Jon and Lois Hunt, Heveningham Hall
James Hopkins, Executive Chairman, Hopkins Homes
William Kendall DL, Entrepreneur
Bill Turnbull, Broadcaster
Bill Nighy, Actor
Diana Quick, Actor
The Rt Hon Ben Gummer
Maggi Hambling CBE, Painter and Sculptor
Matthew Freud, Head of Freud Communications
Libby Purves OBE, Broadcaster
Paul Greengrass, Film Director
David Morrissey, Actor, Director
The Duke of Grafton, Euston Estate
The Lord Marlesford DL, House of Lords
You may also want to watch:
Caroline Cranbrook OBE, President of the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival
Sir Kenneth Carlisle, former MP, and Lady Carla Carlisle
Sir David Madel, former MP
Geoffrey Probert DL, President Suffolk Preservation Society
William Sieghart CBE, Entrepreneur
Justin Dowley, Chairman, Melrose Industries plc
Clare Howes DL
Sir Christopher Howes, former CEO of Crown Estates
Caroline Slocock, Director of Civil Exchange,
Major-General (Rtd) John Sutherell CB, CBE
Guy Heald, chairman, Hotel Folk
Sir Michael and Lady Hopkins, Hopkins Architects
Cllr David Wood, Chair, Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership
Tim Rowan Robinson DL, Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival
Sir Charles Burrell, Knepp Castle Estate, Rewilding pioneer
Isabella Tree, Author and Travel Writer
Ruth Watson, Restaurateur and Hotelier
Robert Townshend, Townshend Landscape Architects
Richard Ellis, Chairman of Original Cottages
Julia Blackburn, Writer, FRSL
Hugh Brody, Anthropologist
Nick Burfield,former Policy Director, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce
Michael Pritt, Owner, Wentworth Hotel, Aldeburgh
Sir Humphrey Burton CBE, Writer and Broadcaster
Helen Atkinson Wood, Actor
John Morton, Writer
Jo Deakin, Journalist
Mark Whitby BSc, FICE, FREng, Hon FRIBA, former President, Institute of Civil Engineers
Theresa Tollemache, Director of Volga Linen
Christian Blackshaw, Concert Pianist
Edward Creasy,Corporate Chairman Molly Dineen,Film Director
Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Writer, FRSL
Dan Franklin, Publisher
Rev. Canon Christine Redgrave, former Rector of the 8 parishes of the Yoxmere Benefice
Amanda Maxwell Dip RBS, TCPD, ARAD, Classical Ballet Dancer
Anthony Silverstone, Consultant Gynaecologist
Beverley Silverstone, Freelance Arts Administrator
Jan Etherington, TV Comedy Scriptwriter
Major Philip Hope-Cobbold DL, Glemham Hall
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East Anglian Daily Times. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.