Sizewell: N-plant plans ‘on schedule’

PLANS for a new nuclear power station at Sizewell remain on schedule, energy giant EDF has insisted – despite an influential committee of MPs casting doubt over the Government’s building targets.

The Energy Committee – chaired by South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo – said it was “sceptical” that the target of switching on two nuclear power stations a year between 2020 and 2025 would be achieved.

It warned that the Government’s planning system did not appear to be capable of making sure the 12 proposed new stations would be in the right places to be linked up to the electricity grid.

But a spokeswoman for energy giant EDF said plans for a new build at Sizewell were on schedule, with consultation due to begin in the second half of this year.

EDF said its plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset, was on course to open by 2018. A potential opening date for a new Sizewell plant has not yet been set.

Mr Yeo, who supports the construction of new nuclear power stations, said the committee was worried about delays to planning procedures and the issue of overhead power cables.

“I think they (nuclear stations) are essential if Britain is to have more secure energy supplies and if it is going to achieve the targets for cutting carbon emissions.

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“But there are going to be some challenges, one of which is whether they are going to be built quickly enough because we need the extra capacity within the next 10 years.”

He added that he hoped the Government would give consideration to alternatives to “old-fashioned” overhead power lines, either by burying them underground or under the sea.

The UK needs a huge number of new nuclear power stations to make up for the coal-fired stations being switched off over the next decade. But the MPs’ report said hooking up all the planned nuclear stations was an “unprecedented challenge” and the current planning system “lacks any real framework for co-ordinating the process of siting and linking up the new power stations”.

A spokesman for Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said the Government was consulting on “fundamental reforms” to the electricity market and proposals would focus on security of energy supply.

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