EDF goes ahead with Sizewell C application despite local objection
PUBLISHED: 06:30 27 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:32 27 May 2020
Energy giant EDF Energy has today submitted plans for the new Sizewell C nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast.
The company confirmed it had applied to the planning inspector for a development consent order (DCO) to build the twin reactor.
The announcement followed weekend reports that EDF was expected to make the application this Wednesday – sparking anger among community leaders and opposition groups, which called for plans to be put on hold until lockdown restrictions were lifted.
EDF said extra measures for public scrutiny of proposals will include extending the period for interested parties to register with the planning inspectorate.
EDF said construction will create 25,000 job opportunities and 1,000 apprenticeships – bringing a huge economic boost to the region and strengthening the energy supply chain after coronavirus.
The GMB Union welcomed news of the application, calling it “vital to the UK’s energy future and economic prosperity of Suffolk”.
It follows four controversial stages of public consultation since 2012 and will begin with a 28-day period for the inspector to assess the application before documents are made available for public examination – probably not until autumn – ahead of a final decision being taken by the government.
Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson CBE, managing director of the project, said the net-zero carbon project would “kick-start” the economy following coronavirus, offer job opportunities and long-term employment for people in Suffolk and strengthen the UK’s nuclear supply chain.
“On top of the economic benefits, Sizewell C will avoid nine million tonnes of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere each year,” he added.
“The project will play a key role in lowering emissions while helping the UK keep control of its low carbon future.”
John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said Sizewell C would boost local training and employment while attracting investment to regenerate rural areas and towns.
Earlier this week, the National Trust expressed “deep concern” over the impact of the proposed plant on an “irreplaceable stretch” of coast and said EDF had failed to provide important information on key topic areas to fully consider the impacts.
Opposition group Stop Sizewell C accused EDF of “riding roughshod over lockdown”, with spokeswoman Alison Downes calling on the inspectorate to reject the application on the basis of what MP Dan Poulter described as EDF’s “unacceptable” lack of engagement with local communities following the end of consultation.
The group accused EDF of ignoring appeals to delay submitting a DCO application for the plant, which it said was too big for the site and surrounded by internationally-protected habitats, including the Minsmere nature reserve.
Paul Collins, of Stop Sizewell C and the Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group, said: “It will be at least 15 years before Sizewell C is carbon neutral, and the unsuitability and sensitivity of the site makes any argument in favour of construction to help economic recovery frankly insulting.”
Last September, research by the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation claimed 400 jobs and between £24m and £40m a year of tourism money could be lost as a result of Sizewell C and onshore infrastructure for ScottishPower Renewables wind farms.
EDF countered claims by arguing a survey had shown construction of sister station Hinkley Point C, in Somerset, had not affected visitor perception or business confidence.
The Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership said EDF had not properly assessed the impact on the national landscape and the environment.
Simon Amstutz, manager at the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), said the partnership’s concerns included the impact of the new buildings, proposed new pylons and roads.
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