EDF planning for Sizewell’s coastal future with specialist technology

A radar which monitors the coast from the top of Sizewell A Picture: EDF

A radar which monitors the coast from the top of Sizewell A Picture: EDF - Credit: Archant

Ahead of plans for a third power station on Suffolk’s coast EDF have revealed some of the ways that it monitors the area; including through the use of radars and drones.

A computer-generated image of Sizewell C Picture: EDF

A computer-generated image of Sizewell C Picture: EDF - Credit: Copyright EDF Energy 2012 - Stag

With sea levels set to rise over the next few decades how does a project like Sizewell C consider the future of Suffolk's coastline?

Dr Stephen Roast, marine planning manager for Sizewell C said: "We wanting to build a nuclear power station and we are right on the edge of the Suffolk coast but his part of the coast is very stable and in front of the station is a hard edge cliff.

"We do have a monitoring plan that will run the life of the station."

EDF work with a number of authorities and experts including the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aqua Culture Science (CEFAS), which has a base in Lowestoft.

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Sea defences are already in place in front of the existing station structures; these are designed to erode over time with sediment helping to add to any material lost from the beach itself.

EDF also has monitoring groups regularly assessing the coastline. It also uses a range of high tech equipment.

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"We have been using a radar on the top of Sizewell A," said Tony Dolphin, a scientist at CEFAS.

The radar collects data on wave length, height and direction from the coastline in front of the station.

"We use a small drone and the drones are able to build a 3D model that's a detailed and reliable way of looking at the beach," said Dr Dolphin.

"We also have done work looking at tides and there's a buoy permanently at Sizewell."

With all the data the teams at Sizewell are able to build up a picture of what natural processes will do to the beach and what impacts the stations themselves may have.

Dr Dolphin said: "When sea levels rise the water is going to be higher up the beach."

However, Sizewell's position on the Suffolk coast means that it is likely to benefit from sediment from other eroding cliffs further up the coast, particularly in areas like Benacre and Easton.

"We know the coastline very well," said Dr Roast, "But it's important to remember people are concerned about the coast and coastal processes."

The fourth round of consultation on Sizewell C concludes on September 27.

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