‘Unrealistic and irrational’: Government announces Sizewell C nuclear station £341m speed-up despite local backlash in Suffolk
The Government has announced it is speeding up the preparations for a new nuclear power station despite local council backlash.
The Home Office revealed yesterday the government is dedicating £341m of previously allocated funding in investment to Sizewell C, bringing the Government’s stake in the project to a total of £1.2bn.
The money will be used to build onsite training facilities for 1,500 apprenticeships, further develop the plant’s engineering design, and invest in the local community.
However, Tom Daly, the cabinet member for energy and climate change at East Suffolk Council, believes the project is “unrealistic and irrational”, and the announcement nothing but a publicity stunt.
He said: “I think it is part of the government’s efforts to keep the subject in the news and make sure it is in the public’s minds.
“The money that is being highlighted has already been allocated — this is a way to create a sense of confidence and try to dispel doubts.”
In early 2020, the Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) local action group sought a judicial review of the previous administration at East Suffolk Council’s 2019 decision to grant planning permission for preparations to begin on the site.
However, in October 2020, the High Court ruled the impacts would be “minor” and “not significant”.
Pete Wilkinson, the deputy chair at TASC, said: “There seems to be a bottomless pit of public money when it comes to funding Sizewell C, so besotted is the government with this already redundant nuclear vanity project.”
Several concerns have been raised by the new council including nuclear waste, water supply, sea defence, impacts on the coastal economy, species diversity, habitat destruction, and size.
Cllr Daly added: “The government’s newfound enthusiasm for nuclear is not based on reality. It’s far too expensive and far too damaging.
“It’s a huge risk to our district that does not need to be taken.”
Despite these worries, the Government hopes the nuclear plant’s impact will satisfy around 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs, providing power to around six million homes over the next 60 years.
This will build on its near-identical sister plant Hinkley Point C, a project which has seen its building finish line delayed until September 2028 and cost increase from roughly £20bn to nearly £33bn.
Andrew Bowie, the minister for Nuclear and Networks, said: “Sizewell C will be a significant part of the revival of nuclear energy in this country – providing clean, home-grown power to millions of homes, providing thousands of jobs and ending reliance on foreign electricity to bolster our energy security.”
The proposal is also projected to create around 2,600 jobs in Suffolk and contribute £4bn to the regional economy.
Nevertheless, Cllr Daly warned the proposed positive impacts are merely theoretical and fail to address ongoing economic and climate struggles.
He said: “We’ve got a climate and economic crisis, and this proposal won’t come on for at least 13 years — we need stuff that works for us now.
“If a portion of that money was spent on insulating people’s homes properly, it would help more in reducing household energy demands.”
Both Cllr Daly and TASC have also warned about the pressures projects such as Sizewell C place on taxpayers.
Being supported through the regulatory asset base model, this means taxpayer money is fuelling the opening stages of the project.
Although the project is currently expected to commence in 2024, there will still be several challenges, with TASC still seeking legal action, and East Suffolk Council to discuss energy-related concerns in September.