Sizewell C 'to boost economy' – but campaigners aren't convinced
Building a second nuclear power station at Sizewell C in Suffolk could create thousands of jobs and boost businesses by millions if not billions of pounds, a new report into its sister site claims.
The study, which looks at Hinkley Point C’s progress in Somerset, indicates 1,700 people are already employed locally just two years into construction.
It claims spending with south west businesses has now topped £1bn and that 6,500 people have worked on the construction so far.
EDF Energy bosses hope these socio-economic benefits would be mirrored should a second nuclear power station be built in Suffolk.
Terry Baxter, chief executive of young people’s charity Inspire Suffolk, has welcomed the report – which comes as a third consultation into Sizewell C drew to a close.
The next step will be to submit a development consent order to the planning inspectorate, in early 2020.
Mr Baxter said: “Sizewell C gives Suffolk the opportunity to address some very real social issues that pockets of the county are living with.
“By delivering a clear education, skills and employment strategy, the power station will have a positive impact on the county and leave a meaningful legacy for those we regularly work with at Inspire Suffolk.”
MORE: Everything you need to know about the Sizewell C nuclear power station
What does the report say?
The ‘Realising the Socio-economic Benefits’ report measures Hinkley Point C’s performance against ambitions set out before construction began.
It says 1,700 of the current workforce for Hinkley Point C live in Somerset, of which 300 are under 35.
EDF bosses say it also highlights their efforts to build a pipeline of skills from schools to the site – and claims that in 2018, the power station worked with 14,500 school and college pupils.
They believe the report and figures within it provide evidence of Sizewell C’s likely boost for jobs and businesses in Suffolk.
John Dugmore, of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said it is important to ensure local businesses are at the front of the queue to work on the project, adding: “[This study] certainly provides very welcome evidence which demonstrates the benefits Sizewell C could deliver to the Suffolk business community.”
Meanwhile Jim Crawford, Sizewell C’s project development director, added: “This report shows the benefits Suffolk stands to gain from a new nuclear station at Sizewell.
“Companies such as Poundfield, near Stowmarket, are already supplying Hinkley Point and others supply Sizewell B.
“The future opportunities for Suffolk businesses at Sizewell C are even greater.”
How do campaigners against Sizewell C feel about the report?
Campaigners fighting against the construction of a second nuclear power station at Sizewell claim a report into its predicted economic benefits fail to convey the damage it may do to tourism.
Paul Collins, of the Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS), claims noise, dust, loss of access and visual impacts will deter visitors to the coast – negatively impacting tourism, which is worth £2bn a year to the Suffolk economy.
“EDF may be trumpeting the economic benefits it claims Sizewell will bring to Suffolk, but these figures don’t convey the damage that will be done to the existing economy, in particular tourism,” he said. “Noise, dust, loss of access and visual impacts will deter visitors to the coast and its rural hinterland in the whole area between Southwold and Aldeburgh.”
The group also believes EDF intends to utilise the Hinkley supply chain, which they claim would affect expected employment benefits for Suffolk.
“EDF has made much of its intention to slash 20% from the cost of Sizewell, in part by using the Hinkley supply chain,” Mr Collins added. “But it has been coy about stating how this might affect economic and employment benefits for the local area.”
His comments came amid calls for a fourth stage of consultation on the proposals.
He and fellow campaigners – including the B1122 Action Group and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group (of which he is co-secretary) – say more information is needed.
“Our groups are unanimous in calling for an additional stage of consultation given the lack of detail provided by EDF and the substantial opposition to major planks of its proposals – transport and accommodation – and significant concern about environmental impacts,” said co-chair Alison Downes.
“Without a further stage of consultation, EDF could be applying for its development consent order in only 12 short months – a prospect that is unthinkable.”
What about the Love Minsmere campaign run by the RSPB?
Calls for a fourth consultation came as 20,419 people told EDF to ‘Love Minsmere’ as part of the RSPB nature reserve’s response to the Sizewell C consultation.
The world renowned site is adjacent to the proposed development area at Sizewell.
The organisation tweeted: “20,419 people raised their voices for Minsmere during the #Sizewell C Stage 3 consultation – thank you.”
What happens next?
EDF is now considering all the feedback from the latest consultation and taking this into account as it prepares its final application for permission.