EDF asked to delay Sizewell C final plans consultation
- Credit: Copyright EDF Energy 2012 - Stag
Energy giant EDF is being asked to delay the formal consultation on its plans for a new £14billion nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast until after the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Community leaders believe people need to be able to attend public meetings and other events as part of the process for the Sizewell C planning application submitted yesterday.
Some industry observers say this would mean autumn at the earliest – and a final decision on the project late next year.
The leaders of East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council have been supportive of EDF Energy making the Development Consent Order submission for permission for the project but are continuing to call on the company to ensure they talk to the two local authorities before triggering the formal Section 56 process and timescale which includes a period of formal public engagement.
Steve Gallant and Matthew Hicks said: “We have written to EDF Energy asking them to delay the Section 56 process given the current Government guidance on social distancing, social isolation and public gatherings. We believe all parties must be satisfied that appropriate public engagement can take place.
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“We would like EDF Energy to continue its discussions with both councils so we can work together to find a suitable solution that works for all our communities.”
Meanwhile, Pete Wilkinson, chair of Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), has written to all Suffolk county councillors calling on them to let their hearts rule their heads and reject the project, which he claims will “irreparably alter that unique Suffolk character and nature of this tranquil and welcoming county, transforming it into just another over-developed, car-dominated, road-centred, urbanised area of the UK like so many others – bland, conformist and uniform”.
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Mr Wilkinson said: “EDF have today applied to the national planning inspectorate for permission to build two huge nuclear reactors on a site which is barely big enough to contain them. It requires the destruction of the 100 year old Coronation Wood for its overspill facilities.
“The construction is designed to house two European Pressurised Reactors generating 3.2 gigawatts of electricity at full power. The Sizewell B plant has recently reduced its output by 50% at a reported cost of £50million due to over-supply.
“This over-supply is not just a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic. In 2005, the government made plans to meet a predicted 15% increase in electricity demand by 2020.
“In fact, demand has dropped over those 15 years by 16%, an overestimation of demand by more than 30%. It is axiomatic that Sizewell C is not needed to ‘keep the lights on’ nor is it an essential infrastructure project.”
Councillor Penny Otton, leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group, said: “We are adamant that no consultation can take place whilst the council and the public are still under strict coronavirus rules.
“We fully support the statement by the leaders of Suffolk county council in calling for the government to delay the process. The council and the public must feel that they have the most transparent and inclusive opportunities to be able to comment on this application - which will have a devastating and very long-lasting effect to a large swathe of East Suffolk.
As a group we will continue to fiercely oppose the building of Sizewell C . We strongly believe it would be a disaster for the local area, and have a lasting and adverse impact on the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on Suffolk businesses and the Suffolk tourism sector.”
But the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has given a warm welcome to the DCO submission.
Chief executive John Dugmore said: “The submission of the DCO marks a key step forward in the building of Sizewell C. The construction and operation of Sizewell C has the potential to further strengthen Suffolk and indeed the region’s position as a key contributor to the Government’s zero-carbon power generation aspirations.
“Throughout the many consultations held prior to this point, Suffolk Chamber has actively supported the Sizewell C project as essentially being good for the jobs and skills prospects of the East Anglian workforce for decades to come.
“The next stage for us is to work with EDF Energy to start mapping out how local and regional firms can be best placed to take advantage of some of the initial tenders that will be issued once the Planning Inspectorate has completed the examination stage of the project.”
Over the next 28 days, the Planning Inspectorate will assess the DCO and determine if it is willing to accept it for Examination before publishing the plans for the public to see.