Love Minsmere petition set to hit 100,000 signatures
- Credit: RSPB
Nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station to be rejected because of its feared impact on an internationally-important nature reserve.
The RSPB Love Minsmere campaign has stepped up a gear this week - with a national advertising campaign targeting EDF Energy offices and more experts and wildlife campagners backing its fight against the £20billion project.
Chris Packham, Bill Turnbull, Anthony Horowitz, Iolo Williams, Emma Kennedy, Miranda Krestovinkoff, Dr Amir Khan, Hannah Stitfall, Julia Bradbury and Deborah Meaden have all expressed their support this week.
The petition - organised by the RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust - has so far been signed by more than 94,000 people and the two groups hope it will break the 100,000 barrier by the time it closes on Monday.
A RSPB spokeswoman said: "With just a few days left of the current leg of the Love Minsmere campaign, the RSPB has sent a strong message to EDF Energy outside their offices and across the capital.
"The charity sited billboards outside EDF’s offices in Brighton and London and put more billboards across the capital to send a message that wildlife must be protected from EDF’s proposed new nuclear power plant, Sizewell C, which would sit right on the border of RSPB Minsmere nature reserve.
"The billboard’s stated that ‘EDF Energy is threatening nature’s home’ calling on people to take action at loveminsmere.org."
Why is the RSPB and SWT against Sizewell C
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The RSPB and SWT say if allowed to go ahead, the twin reactor Sizewell C would be built on the border of RSPB Minsmere and claim it could have "devastating consequences" for nature.
They say: "The build could destroy an area equivalent to 10 football pitches of protected wildlife site Sizewell Marshes. Legally protected animals like otters, water voles and marsh harriers could lose their homes, and toxic chemicals and up to 3 million dead fish could be pumped into the sea each year.
"We do not agree with EDF's conclusions around likely net gain arising from the development due to the replacement of higher value habitats with those of lower value, the time for habitats to reach target condition, the biodiversity value of existing habitats, the requirement to first demonstrate mitigation measures are adequate before counting additional benefits as net gain, and the loss of a significant proportion of Sizewell Marshes SSSI."
What does EDF say about the environment?
A spokeswoman 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.
"The UK Government is committed to addressing climate change. Low carbon energy, from a mix of renewables and nuclear, is critical to achieving its legal commitment to cut CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. Sizewell C would save nine million tonnes of carbon emissions for each year of operation compared to a gas-fired power station.
"At Sizewell, we’re not only working to address climate change. We have a proud, decades-long tradition of successfully caring for the land surrounding the power station at Sizewell B. There is no doubt that wildlife can thrive around power stations and Sizewell C would be no exception.
"We intend to continue our history of stewardship, with the estate due to grow by a third (to around 800 hectares) should the construction of Sizewell C go ahead.
"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. In fact, our plans will improve local biodiversity, resulting in a net gain in land for wildlife.
"And we’ve carefully designed our plans around the local wildlife, including that at RSPB Minsmere. Sizewell C will not encroach onto RSPB Minsmere but our plans will safeguard wildlife on the reserve as well as in the surrounding area.
"We will continue to work with the RSPB who are a valued neighbour, and we are confident our plans will not have a negative impact on this internationally important site.
"We have already designated 250 hectares of land for wildlife as part of our plans for Sizewell C and 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. We have also invested in other local sites, such as Broom Covert, cultivating the area over many years to host reptiles.
"In the long term, should Sizewell C be granted development consent, we intend to establish an Environmental Trust to ensure the future Sizewell estate (equivalent in size to almost 1,000 football pitches) develops and thrives for many years to come.
"Inspired by a similar project in Dorset, we envisage the Trust would manage the ongoing re-wilding and biodiversity of the Sizewell estate. The Trust will be informed by the work we have undertaken with several stakeholders over the years, including the local authorities, on the future vision of the Sizewell estate.
"Just as the construction site around Sizewell B was regenerated and returned to a landscape fitting its AONB status, so will the temporary construction area for Sizewell C, with the land recultivated into a rich mosaic of heathland and acidic grassland, typical of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths.
"We are proud of the contribution we have already made to biodiversity at Sizewell and committed to doing more. The net biodiversity gain that will come with Sizewell C, together with our contribution to net zero carbon emissions is as positive for wildlife as it will be for local people."