Sizewell C could have ‘major impact’ on wildlife at Minsmere, says RSPB

An avocet at minsmere. Photo: Brian Smith

An avocet at minsmere. Photo: Brian Smith - Credit:

Fears have been raised that the construction of the Sizewell C nuclear power station could have a “major impact” on one of Britain’s most important wildlife sites.

The twin-reactor project will bring the development right up to the boundary of RSPB Minsmere, home of BBC TV’s Springwatch programme.

While the work will not encroach on Minsmere the RSPB is concerned that there could be a “major impact” and “potential for direct damage to wetland and fen habitat” bordering the reserve.

However, water level changes could affect Minsmere, and birds could be affected by noise, extra shipping offshore, and light pollution.

RSPB officials are currently carrying out studies to analyse potential impact and says it is important to remain part of the Evidence Plan process as this gives the best opportunity to stay up to date with plans as they progress and provides opportunities to influence designs and plan for the best outcome for nature.

The society said: “At this stage our main concerns about the proposal are its proximity to internationally and nationally important wildlife sites and especially RSPB Minsmere and RSPB North Warren nature reserves.

“Although there will be no direct development on the reserves there is potential for direct damage to wetland and fen habitat bordering RSPB Minsmere.

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“There is also potential for impacts on RPSB Minsmere’s wetland habitats through changes to water availability; impacts on coastal processes and the Minsmere coastline; and direct disturbance of protected wildlife species within the reserve, specifically bittern and marsh harrier.”

Ornithologists fear the development may change water levels in ditches and the groundwater, which could potentially have “significant impacts” on rare wetland wildlife.

If Sizewell C has its own sea defences that could impact on neighbouring habitats by changing the shape and behaviour of the shoreline and freshwater habitats.

Minsmere has 100,000-plus visitors a year and plays a vital role in the community, contributing more than £3 million to the economy and supporting over 100 jobs.

An EDF spokeswoman said: “EDF Energy continues to have informal consultation with environmental organisations such as RSPB and Natural England to properly assess the environmental impact and to consider measures to avoid or mitigate any potential impact of the proposed Sizewell C development.”

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