Sizewell C could harm rare bats and birds claim wildlife experts

Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Head of Conservation, Ben McFarland Picture: SARAH GROVES

Suffolk Wildlife Trusts Head of Conservation, Ben McFarland Picture: SARAH GROVES - Credit: Archant

Wildlife experts say building a new nuclear power station on Suffolk’s coast will have “significant adverse ecological impacts” which will be very difficult to mitigate.

Creating Sizewell C would mean the loss of nationally important fen habitat and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) says it could hit water-levels, affect coastal erosion, harm rare bats, and have a profound impact on wildlife.

EDF Energy recently held its Stage 4 consultation as part of its preparations to submit its final plans for the twin reactor.

SWT's head of conservation, Ben McFarland said the trust had concerns about the potential impact of Sizewell C on wildlife and a lack of sufficient information accompanying the plans for the development.

He said: "We are increasingly concerned over the potential impact from the Sizewell C development. Combined impacts from direct loss of nationally important fen habitat, impacts from water-level change and coastal erosion, as well as lighting and noise on sensitive species such as the rare barbastelle bat, will have a profound impact on wildlife. So far, we are unconvinced that the scale of potential impacts has been fully captured given the impact on rare species and habitats."

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It was "unquestionable that the proposed development will have significant adverse ecological impacts which will be very difficult to adequately address".

The main areas for concern include loss of rare and protected habitats including land designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, a severe impact on rare bats and a negative impact on birds with noise and lighting during the 10-year construction period likely to displace many specially protected birds, such as the marsh harrier.

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EDF Energy said it has received a number of responses and was now analysing the feedback.

A spokeswoman said: "Sizewell C has carried out extensive studies covering the ecology and coastal processes of the local areas over a number of years with leading experts such as Lowestoft based Cefas to ensure we understand the local environment.

"We hold regular workshops with the Environment Agency, Natural England, the local planning authorities, the RSPB and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, to look closely at how to minimise the impact of building Sizewell C on the local environment."

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