Critical phase of Sizewell C project starts despite objections

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 / SIZEWELL C

Planning chiefs have started the formal examination of the proposals for a new twin-reactor nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast - despite campaigners' calls for a delay.

Parish and town councils, environmental organisations and campaign groups asked the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for the crucial procedure to be put back because of the huge pressure many local people are facing in fighting both Sizewell C and plans for two enormous offshore windfarms and infrastructure at the same time.

The campaigners are also anxious that PINS has still not decided whether to accept EDF Energy's revised plans for the £20billion Sizewell project, leaving them even more work to do.

The examination of ScottishPower Renewables’ (SPR) application for a Development Consent Order for its plans for the East Anglia One North (EA1N) and East Anglia Two (EA2) offshore wind farms has already been extended by three months.   

Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C

Alison Downes from the Stop Sizewell C campaign. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

PINS has had the Sizewell C plans for almost a year and now the Examination phase - in previous eras what would have been a lengthy public inquiry - will enable all the evidence and representations from interested parties to be looked at in detail - in written form and in a series of hearings.

This will take six months and then the inspector will make a recommendation to Government as to whether the nuclear plant should go ahead or not.

Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C said it was "absurd" and "crazy" to start the examination when so many organisations, particularly parish councils, were already embroiled in the SPR application.

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"We put forward solid arguments as to why the examination should be delayed. It's not just about the hearings but the huge amount of material everyone has to examine and read through and then make representations on and for many it will be both examinations."

She blamed EDF for delays to the procedures - saying there had been years of consultation in which people said from the first stage that a solution to the HGV problems was required and more materials needed to be delivered by sea, but EDF had only proposed new plans a few months ago.

A CGI showing how the new twin reactor Sizewell C would look

A CGI showing how the new twin reactor Sizewell C would look if it is built - Credit: EDF ENERGY/SIZEWELL C

PINS though decided that the Examination phase should proceed as planned.

It said the hearings would be held online, which most people were comfortable with now, and did not see a problem with the EDF and SPR DCO applications taking  place alongside each other as the hearings programme could be managed to avoid clashes, and there was an expectation that a decision should be made in a timely manner.

TASC (Together Against Sizewell C) said it was a "bad day for democratic representation".

A spokesman said: "Despite many good and valid reasons provided by the local communities and statutory bodies why the start of the Examination phase should be deferred, the Planning Inspectorate chose to ignore those pleas.

"It was an example of the David vs Goliath situation we find ourselves in: local residents, businesses, NGOs, parish and town councils against the might of EDF and its Chinese partner."

TASC members protesting over Sizewell C Picture: TASC

TASC members protesting over Sizewell C Picture: TASC - Credit: Archant

EDF said it is pleased to note the examination is beginning and that there is no further delay to the planned investment and creation of jobs the company would like to bring to the area.

Sizewell C had delayed the original submission of the planning application by two months and extended the period of public registration due to the pandemic. This had followed eight years of public consultation to form the proposals for the new power station.

The company said: "We submitted important changes to the Planning Inspectorate in January to take on board feedback from the area. 

"The improved proposals include increasing rail and sea deliveries during construction to reduce the number of HGVs on local roads, reducing the use of AONB land and proposing additional land for the creation of fen meadow."

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