Sizewell plans ‘not even close’ to mitigating impact on environment

Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin hosted the Love Minsmere: Live event on Friday, November 27. Picture: DAVID TIPLING

Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin hosted the Love Minsmere: Live event on Friday, November 27. Picture: DAVID TIPLING - Credit: Archant

Plans to mitigate the impact of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station on the local environment are nowhere near enough, say local experts.

The Love Minsmere: The Live Event hoped to raise the profile of the area Picture: ARCHANT

The Love Minsmere: The Live Event hoped to raise the profile of the area Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Gregg Brown

Concerns about the impact of the project on the local environment were heard as part of the Love Minsmere: The Live Event which was hosted on Facebook on Friday by wildlife presenter Chris Packham and his stepdaughter environmentalist, Megan McCubbin.

But EDF Energy, which has put forward the plans for the £20billion twin reactor nuclear power plant, said its proposals would protect wildlife and contribute to the rich biodiverse landscape of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.

Ben McFarland, head of conservation at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, told the event that although progress had been made with EDF, the group still wanted more to be done.

“Much more needs to be done in my view,” said Mr McFarland.

Heart on Whin Hill with Sizewell power station in the background, formed by 1000 supporters at the RSPB Love Minsmere...

Heart on Whin Hill with Sizewell power station in the background, formed by 1000 supporters at the RSPB Love Minsmere Festival 15 September 2019. Picture: DAVID TIPLING - Credit: David Tipling


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“We are not even close to reducing the impact there is going to be.”

Adam Rowlands, RSPB’s Suffolk area manager, said they had a number of concerns about Sizewell C including its impact on local water levels which could disturb rare bitterns.

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“One of the big threats of this development is that it will be building in the flood plain,” said Mr Rowlands.

He also raised concerns about the water which would be taken in by the station to cool reactors which he said could kill a large amount of fish eaten by birds from the reserve.

Ben McFarland from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust Picture: JOHN GRANT

Ben McFarland from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust Picture: JOHN GRANT - Credit: Archant

“We need to be conscious of the impact on the marine environment,” said Mr Rowlands.

The event aimed to highlight the plight of the RSPB Minsmere reserve and Sizewell Marshes in the face of the potential construction of Sizewell C.

“This is a very special pair of places that we need to look after,” Mr Packham told viewers.

Mr Packham and Ms McCubbin called on the viewers to sign an e-petition to raise their concerns about the project which is due to go into its next phase of consideration next year.

Marsh Harriers nesting at the Sizewell C habitat creation land on Aldhurst Farm Picture: EDF

Marsh Harriers nesting at the Sizewell C habitat creation land on Aldhurst Farm Picture: EDF - Credit: Archant

At its peak around 1,900 people were tuning in to the broadcast.

MORE: Springwatch’s Chris Packham to host event celebrating Suffolk nature reserve

Adam Rowlands from the RSPB Picture: ARCHANT

Adam Rowlands from the RSPB Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Lucy Taylor

The broadcast also featured messages from famous faces including wildlife presenter Michaela Strachan and former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull.

“There’s nothing quite like it, it’s irreplaceable,” said Mr Turnbull.

“It’s a precious jewel, a safe sanctuary for wildlife.”

A spokesman for Sizewell C said: “Sizewell C will boost biodiversity. Biodiversity is under threat from climate change, which is predicted to be the biggest single future challenge to wildlife.

“Experts like the WWF say the inextricable link between the two means tackling biodiversity loss and climate change together is essential. Sizewell C would save nine million tonnes of carbon emissions for each year of operation compared to a gas-fired power station.

“There is no doubt that wildlife can thrive around power stations and Sizewell C would be no exception.

“We will not waver in our commitment to protecting wildlife and contributing to the rich biodiverse landscape of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“And we’ve carefully designed our plans around the local wildlife, including that at RSPB Minsmere. Sizewell C will not encroach onto the reserve and, where we border it, we are proposing to create a water storage area.

“This area will be transformed into wet woodland habitat, which supports a wide range of plants, invertebrates, birds and mammals, and reedbeds, which provide breeding habitats for many birds and invertebrates.

“We have specific proposals for safeguarding wildlife at Minsmere including bats and rare birds such as bitterns, avocets, marsh harriers and ground nesting birds. We will continue to work with the RSPB who are a valued neighbour, and we are confident our plans will not have any negative impact on this internationally important site.

“We have designated 250 hectares of land for wildlife as part of our plans for Sizewell C and we started creating new habitats in 2015 to ensure wildlife is not just protected but encouraged to thrive.

“Our Aldhurst Farm Wetland Creation scheme near Leiston is already firmly established. Providing low-lying wetland habitat with more than 120,000 reedbeds over 67ha, it has been colonised by rare marsh harriers which also breed at Minsmere.”

MORE: Top-level talks on funding for Sizewell C but no green light yet

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