More than 100,000 people sign Love Minsmere petition
- Credit: RSPB
More than 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 launched a national advertising campaign last week targeting EDF Energy offices with more experts and wildlife campaigners 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 all expressed their support.
The petition - organised by the RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust - reached 104,836 signatures on Monday when it closed and the details will be presented to the Planning Inspectorate, which is currently considering EDF's Development Consent Order application for the project.
The RSPB thanked everyone for their support.
Adam Rowlands, RSPB Suffolk area manager said: “We’ve been completely blown away that over 100,000 people have taken action to protect wildlife at RSPB Minsmere, Sizewell Marshes SSSI and beyond from Sizewell C.
“We want to say a massive thank you to everyone that spoke up to protect the nature that’s not only so important to us here in Suffolk, but across the globe too.”
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Ben McFarland, Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s head of conservation, said: “We’re delighted that so many people have taken a stand for Suffolk’s nature. If Sizewell C was to be given the go ahead, it would take at least 10 years to build and miles of the Suffolk countryside could be lost.
“One of the places most at risk is Sizewell Marshes, a protected wildlife site which we manage here at Suffolk Wildlife Trust. The build would destroy an area equivalent to 10 football pitches of this reserve which could have catastrophic impacts on a range of rare species like bats and natterjack toads.
“However, over 100,000 people giving Suffolk’s nature a voice gives us hope. At a time of biodiversity crisis, we cannot continue to allow the environment and wildlife to be pushed aside. It is a highly inappropriate site for a new power station.”
Why is the RSPB and SWT against Sizewell C
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."