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Wildlife groups unite to fight Sizewell C amid fears for habitat and animals

PUBLISHED: 14:06 28 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:06 28 May 2020

An avocet at RSPB Minsmere Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

An avocet at RSPB Minsmere Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

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Two wildlife charities have united in their opposition to plans for the Sizewell C nuclear power station – and will tell national planning chiefs it must not go ahead.

RSPB Minsmere reedbed landscape  Picture: David Tipling/RSPBRSPB Minsmere reedbed landscape Picture: David Tipling/RSPB

The RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) say they have not seen evidence that the £14billion project can be built without detrimentally impacting internationally and nationally important landscapes, habitats, animals and plants on the Suffolk coast.

Ben McFarland, SWT’s conservation manager, said: “Current plans suggest the direct loss of nationally important and protected land on Sizewell Belts, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). An area between 10-12 hectares – or roughly ten football pitches – will be covered in concrete. The loss of this nationally rare fen habitat would be devastating and irreplaceable.”

On neighbouring land at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve, the build will bring the Sizewell Estate adjacent to the internationally famous wildlife haven.

It is feared the building work may increase erosion, upsetting the delicate balance of the reserve. It could affect the water levels in Minsmere’s ditches, impacting its rare wetland wildlife, which includes bitterns, water voles, otters and ducks.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust's head of conversation, Ben McFarland Picture: John FergusonSuffolk Wildlife Trust's head of conversation, Ben McFarland Picture: John Ferguson

Once construction is in progress, it may increase levels of noise and light pollution. Marsh harriers, ducks and geese and wading birds in particular are very sensitive to this.

Adam Rowlands, RSPB Suffolk area manager, said: “The Government has already recognised in their National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation (EN-6) that Sizewell C could have detrimental impacts on internationally and nationally important landscapes, habitats and species of the Suffolk coast and at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve.

“EDF have not presented us with sufficient evidence that these disastrous impacts can be avoided.

“Without this evidence, we have been forced to conclude given the levels of uncertainty, that the build must not go ahead given its anticipated impacts on the environment.”

The 'Love Minsmere' festival PICTURE: RACHEL EDGEThe 'Love Minsmere' festival PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

EDF Energy has said there will be plenty of opportunity for people to comment on its plans, which have been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and are due to be published fully in about a month’s time.

The most recent consultation highlighted the creation of a new wildlife habitat at Aldhurst Farm, Leiston, to help compensate for any future potential land-take from the Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The company was also proposing three additional potential sites to support the marsh harrier breeding population in case current work to establish habitats on the EDF Energy estate does not provide sufficient foraging areas, plus two potential sites to compensate for the loss of fen meadow habitats from the SSSI.

A murmuration of swallows above RSPB Minsmere. Picture: RSPB MINSMEREA murmuration of swallows above RSPB Minsmere. Picture: RSPB MINSMERE

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