'Smoke and mirrors' claim in mixed reaction to Sizewell C economic boost prediction

How Sizewell C with its twin reactors could look alongside plants A and B on Suffolk's coast

How Sizewell C with its twin reactors could look alongside plants A and B on Suffolk's coast - Credit: EDF ENERGY

Opponents of Sizewell C have criticised a report claiming the power project will bring a £2billion boost to Suffolk as "smoke and mirrors" - but council chiefs have welcomed the findings.

Commissioned by the Sizewell C Consortium, a group of 200-plus businesses and organisations supporting the proposed nuclear power station, the report was written by Ernst and Young after speaking to supply chain and key businesses in the region.

The report said the decade-long construction period would bring an investment of £4.4bn in the East of England, of which around £2bn would be in Suffolk, along with tens of thousands of new jobs.

Councillor Richard Rout, cabinet member for environment and public protection at Suffolk County Council, said: “We welcome the ambition for investment in Suffolk as part of the Sizewell C development supply chain. This is especially important as we begin to look towards future recovery from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic which has affected many local businesses and industries. 

"The projections laid out in this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) from the Sizewell C Consortium present genuine opportunities for future employment, upskilling and reskilling of Suffolk’s local workforce and businesses delivering genuine social value from the development. 

Richard Rout

Richard Rout is concerned about the growth of new pylons in the county. - Credit: Suffolk County Council

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“If the ambition is realised, we can see real benefits for Suffolk and neighbouring areas that will unlock opportunities for economic growth, business investment and jobs for local people.

"As an authority we have strong ambitions to shape the future economic infrastructure of the county, providing a location for innovation driving the industries of tomorrow whilst continuing to focus on key aspects of local environmental protection and the special value of Suffolk’s natural and historic environment."

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But campaign group Stop Sizewell C said: "This report uses smoke and mirrors. It massively overstates construction period jobs by counting them by the year so, over a 10 year build, the number is only 10% of those claimed.

"Over three quarters of EDF's construction workforce - around 6,000 - would be imported from outside East Anglia. EDF's management has made no secret of its 'ambition' to bring skilled workers from its Hinkley site to Suffolk.

"The report uses gross spend rather than any net 'benefit' to Suffolk.

"If a £20billion project is going to dominate the area for a decade you would expect a proportion to be spent locally, but 10% seems very bad value for money.

Paul Collins, Charles Macdowell and Alison Downes from the Stop Sizewell C campaign Picture: SARAH

Paul Collins, Charles Macdowell and Alison Downes from the Stop Sizewell C campaign Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

"The report also ignores the many negative economic impacts on East Suffolk's thriving SME-based local business community, such as traffic congestion, displacement of workers, and loss of customers - not least in tourism."

Paul Wood, head of economic development and regeneration at East Suffolk Council, said the findings are encouraging and spell out the clear economic benefits which the scheme would deliver.

He said: "This report clearly indicates that a scheme of this scale brings with it considerable economic opportunities both in terms of investment in the region but also the creation of jobs at a time when the country is seeking to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

“East Suffolk is keen to maximise the opportunities to benefit local people and aid the recovery post-Covid, with enhanced skills and education offerings arising from this report.

"The opportunity for apprenticeships for local people cannot be underestimated and we would like a clear commitment from EDF Energy and the Consortium to maximise these local opportunities to provide lasting transferrable employment skills."

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