Twin N-plant shock for Sizewell

BRITISH Energy has been accused of “slipping in” plans for a Sizewell D - as well as Sizewell C - after the revelation it was planning to build two nuclear reactors on the site.

David Green

TWO new nuclear reactors are being planned for Sizewell - and each could be bigger than the existing B station, it emerged last night.

The proposed twin reactors - costing a total of nearly £6 billion - may each generate 1,600 megawatts of power (MW), compared with the 1,200 MW of Sizewell B, depending on the design chosen.

The disclosure came as more than 100 people attended a meeting called by British Energy to update the local community on plans which are still at the outline stage.

Construction could start in 2013 - subject to planning permission being granted by the previous year - and be completed by 2018. About 5,000 workers would be on site at the peak of the construction period.

Draft proposals for Sizewell - disclosed for the first time last night - include twin reactors, a new access road and a beach landing stage to help minimise road deliveries.

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Building twin reactors will force British Energy to seek an off-site area to use as a temporary site for storing plant and materials and land has been provisionally earmarked to the north-west of the site - part woodland and part agricultural land.

Part of the forestry land could be used permanently - for car parking and other “low level” activity.

However, one of the most controversial aspects of existing plans will be the building of a new access road from the B1122 road across countryside which includes part of a nature reserve designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Existing plans show the road passing over the SSSI on stilts but objections to any disturbance are likely from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Teams of headquarters staff are currently preparing draft proposals to build on four of the company's existing nuclear sites, including Sizewell and Bradwell, but the company insists no decisions have yet been taken on which sites will be the subject of planning applications.

Ian Bryant, British Energy's planning manager, told last night's meeting that stakeholders, including local authorities and local residents, would be consulted at each stage of the planning process but the aim was to minimise disruption to the area.

No decisions had been taken on the submission of planning permission for new nuclear power stations but Sizewell was “a very strong candidate”, he said. Favourable criteria included suitable ground conditions and the existing infrastructure.

Nick Ratcliff, formerly of Theberton and one of the objectors at the Sizewell B inquiry, said of the twin reactor plans: “You have slipped in a Sizewell D as well as a Sizewell C.”

Other people attending the meeting expressed concern about the proposed new access road and the potential for anti-social behaviour involving the large workforce.

There were also claims that Sizewell was vulnerable to sea level rise as a result of climate change and that the nuclear site, bordered to the north and west by low lying land, could become an island.

Joan Girling, one of the local residents present, said: “The sea if going to be the master in the end.”

Brian Dowds, Sizewell B station director, said British Energy was committed to sharing information with the community and would take its concerns into account when developing its proposals.

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