Green light for new nuclear power plant


A multi-billion pound project to build a new nuclear power station has been given the green light.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said development permission had been granted for the Sizewell C project in Suffolk.

Sizewell C is expected to generate enough low-carbon electricity to power six million homes.

The application was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by NNB Nuclear Generation in May 2020 and accepted for review the following month.

An aerial view of the proposed site (AP)

Inspectorate Chief Executive Sarah Richards said: “The Planning Inspectorate has now reviewed over 100 infrastructure projects of national significance since the introduction of the Planning Act 2008 process, ensuring that local communities have had the opportunity to be involved in the review of projects that may affect them.

“This review has taken place during the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions, and the review authority has worked hard to ensure that local people, local authorities – East Suffolk District and Suffolk County Council – and other interested parties could participate fully.

“The reviewing authority listened to and fully considered local views and evidence gathered during the review before making its recommendation.”

Carly Vince, Sizewell C Planning Director, said: “I am delighted that after months of careful consideration the Government has given planning consent for Sizewell C. This is a big endorsement of our proposals and supports our view that this is the right project in the right place.

“I would like to thank the thousands of people in East Suffolk who contributed to our consultation sessions and public review. Input from residents, local authorities, environmental groups and many others has helped us improve our plans.

“We will continue to work closely with them to ensure we minimize construction impacts and maximize the huge opportunities for the region.

“Sizewell C will be good for the region, creating thousands of opportunities for local people and businesses. This will boost local biodiversity and leave a legacy of which Suffolk can be proud.

Negotiations with the government on raising funds for the project are continuing and a financial investment decision is expected in 2023.

Julia Pyke, Sizewell C’s Finance Director, said: “Energy costs will be lower with nuclear in the mix, so today’s decision is good news for bill payers.

“The proven financing mechanism we offer means that by paying a small amount during construction, consumers will benefit in the long run.

“Sizewell C will be a big boost to jobs and skills in nuclear supply chain companies across the country. It will boost UK energy security and play a key role in our fight against climate change.

Planning approval brings us closer to delivering the huge benefits of this project in Suffolk and the UK.

Charlotte Childs, GMB Country Manager, said: “Sizewell C is key to meeting our energy challenges. This is an essential step forward for energy security and net zero.

“The UK’s nuclear program has been delayed too many times due to political decisions. We need new investment in nuclear to secure good jobs for the future.

“This project is essential for jobs and skills and to achieve our environmental objectives. It’s clear – there can be no net zero without new nuclear.

Sizewell B nuclear power station in SuffolkSizewell B nuclear power station in Suffolk (Fiona Hanson/PA)

A spokesperson for campaign group Stop Sizewell C said: “The wrong decision has been made but it is not the end of our campaign.

“Not only will we be looking closely at the possibility of appealing this decision, but we will continue to challenge all aspects of Sizewell C because, whether it is the impact on consumers, costs and massive delays , outstanding technical issues or environmental impacts, it remains a bad project and a very bad risk.

“What remains of Boris Johnson’s administration should refrain from throwing more money at Sizewell C or making a government investment decision.

“It is deeply concerning, given that households will have to pay for this hugely expensive project in these difficult times, that no one in government is ready to say clearly how much it will cost to build.”

Greenpeace UK Chief Scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “The contrast between the dynamic, cost-effective and innovative technologies in the renewable energy sector and the lame behemoths of new nuclear power could hardly be starker.

“Sizewell C represents everything that has been wrong in energy policy. A nuclear company, struggling with problems – from failing reactors to nationalization – gets a deal stitched up behind closed doors, resulting in extra costs on energy bills, unmanageable waste for future generations and an expensive elephant project White.

“That he ransacks an important nature reserve is an unwelcome bonus.

“Rather than waste time and money on this deceptive energy solution, the government should do everything possible to make cheaper, cleaner and more reliable renewable energy the backbone of our energy system.

“Whatever else is going on in British politics at the moment, there are no signs of a fresh start here.”

Prospect Syndicate Principal Deputy General Secretary Sue Ferns said: ‘We now need the Government to present its investment decision urgently so that the project can move forward.

“The approval of Sizewell C funding will send a strong signal to investors that the government is committed to new nuclear providing energy security and getting us to Net Zero.

“This week’s extreme temperatures have shown that we cannot afford to delay the decarbonization of our energy supply.”

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “This is a huge step forward for UK energy security and its net zero ambitions.

“Sizewell C will provide reliable low-carbon energy for over 80 years, reducing gas consumption, creating thousands of high-quality skilled jobs, and long-term investment and opportunity across the country.

“Sizewell C will be one of the largest green power projects ever in the UK, and this decision significantly strengthens the pipeline of new nuclear capacity in Britain.”

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