Sizewell: N-plant bosses will learn lessons from problems with French reactor before new build

ALLEGED problems with building a new nuclear reactor in France - including spiralling costs and lengthy delays - will not affect plans for Sizewell C, energy bosses claimed last night.

But campaigners said the issues surrounding the construction of Flamanville 3 could prove a stumbling block to EDF’s hopes.

The energy company is currently building a European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) - the same type that would be at Sizewell - in the north west of France.

However the project is reported to have suffered problems.

Construction started in 2006 in the hope it would be ready by next year at a cost of around €3.3bn.

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However it has been reported that the cost has now risen to €6bn (�5.3bn) and the finishing date put back to 2016.

Last night EDF said the lessons learnt in France were vital to their work in England and that its plans for Sizewell were still on track, with a public consultation set to start next year.

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A spokesman said: “The experience at Flamanville is invaluable as we progress in the UK. Each time EDF builds the EPR, our expertise increases. We are already seeing the benefits of the experience from existing projects.

“We are making good progress in the UK. We are in the final stages of licensing the EPR. It is a good design which the UK regulator said is capable of being accepted.

“We have already said publicly that we will publish an adjusted timetable in the autumn. We have also said that this adjusted timetable will take account of the final report from chief nuclear inspector Dr Mike Weightman and the lessons we are learning from experiences and challenges at our new build projects in China and in France.

“We remain committed to the UK and to our new nuclear programme. We will deliver this programme to the highest standards of safety.”

Earlier this month the Government confirmed that Sizewell was on a list of eight suitable sites for the next generation of reactors, along with Bradwell in Essex.

French owned EDF wants to build twin EPRs on land it owns to the north of the existing plant, a move that could be worth up to �700m to the Suffolk economy during construction and �40m a year when up and running.

Last night Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign, said he thought the problems in France could force EDF to assess their position.

“I am sure that EDF will be reviewing their plans very carefully,” he said. “Unless the Government increases its subsidies from the taxpayer I think its a no brainer - in my view EDF will have to go somewhere else because I don’t believe they will make a profit. The money would be better spent on renewable energy such as tidal, solar or biomass, coupled with energy efficiency.”

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