Sizewell: Threat of new delay to nuclear plant proposal

Sizewell nuclear power station Photo: Mike Page

Sizewell nuclear power station Photo: Mike Page

A NEW round of public consultations over plans for a Sizewell C nuclear power station is likely to be delayed until next year, it has been disclosed.

The delay is largely due to the stalling of talks between the Government and EDF Energy over a guaranteed price for the electricity to be generated by the first of the proposed new stations - at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The first phase of public consultation over Sizewell C was launched in November last year.

It lasted eleven weeks but the public had its first glimpse of the outcome only last week at a community forum meeting.

Although no date had been set for the second phase of consultation, which will pave the way for a formal planning application, it was expected to take place during the next few months.

However, delay with the price talks over Hinkley means that the Sizewell C second phase will almost certainly have to wait until 2014.

This would mean that the construction of the twin-reactor Sizewell C, scheduled to take ten years to build, could not start until 2015 at the earliest.

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EDF declined to say at the weekend whether the delay in the price talks will lead to a reduction in staff working on the Sizewell project, as is already the case at Hinkley.

Stephen Walls, EDF’s new project head, said it was “unlikely” that the phase two Sizewell C consultation would take place this year.

The delay will give officials more time to complete environmental and technical studies surrounding the Suffolk project, including the design of a jetty to be built on Sizewell beach so that sea deliveries can be maximised.

Among the heavy loads due to arrive by sea are the two reactor pressure vessels - to be manufactured in France. Other components could be shipped in from elsewhere in the UK, from other European countries and from Japan.

Joan Girling, chairman of the Suffolk-based Communities Against Nuclear Expansion, said she was not surprised by the new delay in the Sizewell C project.

“There are many people and businesses rubbing their hands at the thought of new jobs and contracts but, even if Sizewell C eventually gets the go-ahead, it is just not going to start for two or three years at the earliest,” she said.

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