The Johnson Government may be keen to take forward its foolhardy ‘big bet’ on a new nuclear future for Britain, but the Nuclear Free Local Authorities are concerned that the Business Secretary clearly appears to have already made up his mind to press ahead with Sizewell C before formal planning approval for the project has even been granted by his department.
Secretary of State Kwasi Kwarteng has pledged the government to take a 20% stake in the £20 billion project, and told the BBC’s Today programme the government “was committed to Sizewell”, despite ministerial guidance stating that ‘Ministers will….avoid expressing views on the merits of a proposed scheme which is the subject of a (planning) application’.
NFLA Chair Councillor David Blackburn is concerned that the Minister is clearly either unaware or disinterested in the strength of feeling amongst residents and local councils against Sizewell C going ahead; objections based in the main on very practical considerations.
“The NFLA objects to all civil nuclear projects on the grounds of their prohibitive costs, construction overruns, their accident potential, and because of their legacy of toxic radioactive waste, but in the case of Sizewell C there are other specific planning considerations”, said Councillor Blackburn.
“Put simply the site is not suitable. Sizewell C would be located on a coastal site that will subject to erosion and that will be under increasing threat from rising sea levels and storm surges. There is insufficient potable water available to support construction and operations. Construction threatens the surrounding areas of outstanding natural beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, particularly the Minsmere nature reserve, and locals have well-grounded fears that the road network and housing and health infrastructure will be unable to bear the burden of thousands of vehicle movements and the accommodation of construction staff.”
The Planning Inspectorate considered all objections before producing a detailed report with recommendations for the Minister, which was delivered at the end of February. Given the number and extent of objections, Councillor Blackburn cannot believe that the Minister’s Department can yet have had sufficient time to shift through the report to come to a considered judgement.
“It shows the Secretary of State in a bad light for him not to have even had the propriety to observe the ministerial guidance and to have awaited the publication of his department’s consent for development before so publicly endorsing the Sizewell C project,” added Councillor Blackburn.
“If any objectors, and I am sure there are many, thought that the whole planning approval might have been pre-determined from the beginning, the minister’s conduct has certainly put a shine to that!”
For more information, please contact NFLA Secretary Richard Outram by email on email@example.com or mobile 07583097793