‘Catastrophic losses for nature’ - environment bosses slam EDF Sizewell C plans
PUBLISHED: 17:52 29 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:28 30 September 2020
The Suffolk Wildlife Trust and RSPB have condemned the environmental plans for the Sizewell C nuclear power station, arguing that critical information is missing.
The RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust said that they were unable to properly assess the application and its impact as key information remained missing.
In particular they remained concerned about the future for several protected animals including; otters, water voles, marsh harriers, bats, natterjack toads, red-throated divers and more.
The groups say that in some cases mitigation plans for the species either don’t exist or are seriously lacking in detail.
This, they say, has led them to conclude that the station will result in “catastrophic losses for nature” rather than a “net-gain for nature” which they say EDF has claimed
Adam Rowlands, RSPB Suffolk Area Manager said: “We are extremely worried to find huge gaps in EDF’s Sizewell C application.
“As well as the missing and inadequate evidence, there are also details missing from the designs and plans too.
“Without these we can’t have confidence in EDF’s assessment of the build’s impacts on wildlife and the possible effectiveness of the proposed mitigation, particularly at RSPB Minsmere and on Sizewell Marshes SSSI.
“One of our biggest worries is the impacts on marine life.
“We are concerned by the incomplete data and methods used to draw limited assessments on the impacts. Without a more thorough assessment, we are concerned that a cocktail of toxic chemicals and a huge amount of dead fish could be pumped into the sea.
“This could reduce food supplies for important seabirds like terns and red-throated divers that forage just offshore from RSPB Minsmere. These birds could also be disturbed by movements from ships and dredgers off the coast. This could have significant impacts on our already fragile local seabird populations.
“The extensive lack of detail extends to the proposals on land too, which could be disastrous for some of our much-loved animals like water voles and otters that call this area home. We are in an ecological emergency, a time when we need to revive our world, big builds should not only protect existing nature, but also enhance it. These plans don’t even come close to meeting this need.”
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Ben McFarland, Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Head of Conservation said: “EDF’s plans leave some of our rarest animals facing an uncertain fate.
“The hibernation site of rare natterjack toads, a species with only a handful of colonies left in England, will be built on – a major blow for an animal that is already struggling. Bats, including threatened barbastelle bats, could also suffer as the current plans will fragment their habitat. They will also be disturbed by increased levels of noise and light.
“All these animals are highly protected by law yet plans to mitigate the impacts on these animals either don’t exist or are seriously lacking in detail. It’s very worrying.”
“The development will replace existing areas, rich in wildlife, with areas that support fewer species. These new habitats will take a long time to reach the same level of value as existing sites, and measures that reduce the impact must first be identified and be suitable before counting any additional benefits as a net-gain for nature.
“This is not forgetting the devastating loss of a significant proportion of the Sizewell Marshes SSSI, which is a nationally significant protected site which provides a safe refuge for a whole host of animals and plants.”
A spokesman for EDF said: “We are facing a climate crisis with profound risks to the environment, wildlife and people. We need to act now to decarbonise the electricity system and replace fossil fuels and the existing nuclear fleet reaching the end of their lives.
“Sizewell C will generate always-on, low carbon electricity made in Britain for around 6 million homes. Together with other nuclear projects, it will underpin a big expansion of renewables and kick-start new green technologies like hydrogen.
“We look forward to seeing the representations from SWT and RSPB as their experience and expertise can inform us what they believe the right mitigation measures should be. We want to build it in the most sustainable way possible and with a high regard to local wildlife. That is why we are working on replacement habitat now.
“We have designated an extra 250 hectares of land for wildlife as part of our plans for Sizewell C, including at Aldhurst Farm in Leiston and fen meadow habitat creation sites in Halesworth and Benhall.
“CEFAS, the government experts on marine life based in Lowestoft have been working for the project for a number of years to fully understand the Suffolk coastline where we would like to build Sizewell C. Their work has informed our plans which are shared in the Environmental Statement which is publicly available.
“At Sizewell C, we value the importance of biodiversity. We have carried out an extensive survey programme over the years and engaged with environmental organisations to understand the local ecology. That’s why our main development site will be built and operated with sensitivity to the local environment, leaving a positive legacy that will include a net gain for biodiversity.”
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