The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has published on its website the speeches and presentations from its informative public meeting held with local Suffolk groups concerned about the proposed nuclear reactors being considered for Sizewell C. (1) The meeting was held with the active support of the groups Together Against Sizewell C, Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell C, Friends of the Earth Suffolk Coastal and the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group.
The meeting was held just before the stringent public health measures around coronavirus were announced, and, due to taking adequate safety measures for the meeting, a packed audience of over 80 people were in attendance. The speakers at the meeting were also interviewed by BBC ‘Look East’ and ITV’s Anglia News, whilst the NFLA English Forum and Steering Committee Chair was interviewed by BBC Radio Suffolk.
The meeting focused on real concerns by a wide range of local wildlife and environmental groups about the impact of the Sizewell C facility. If approved, this would have a substantial impact on the local environment, with some highly sensitive land being removed for the nuclear power plant, and other areas seriously affected.
Amongst the comments made at the meeting were:
- Prominent local environmentalist Simon Barnes commented that the development will damage the precious RSPB Minsmere facility, and as a result impact on local bird and wildlife populations. As he says: “You can’t damage Minsmere: you can’t even take the smallest risk of anything that even might just possibly have the tiniest detrimental effect on Minsmere.”
- Head of Conservation of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Ben McFarland, commented that the Sizewell C development was the biggest threat to local wildlife and habitats in a generation and needed to be opposed. The Trust believes over 12 hectares of the Sizewell Belts Sites of Special Scientific Interest will be lost forever. In addition, rare flowers and habitats, mammals, adders, a variety of species of birds and bats could be further endangered should Sizewell C go ahead.
- The Co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth Suffolk Coastal, Rachel Fulcher, presented a video of the negative impacts on the local environmental of east Suffolk, and gave a very personal view of the potential damage to rare species.
- The co-founder of the US-based group Beyond Nuclear International, Linda Pentz Gunter, provided an international perspective on the development, commenting on studies undertaken of nuclear accidents and the huge damage endured by animals and livestock not just at the time, but many years afterwards. A Beyond Nuclear booklet on these issues was available at the meeting.
- Chair of Together Against Sizewell C, Pete Wilkinson, considered some of the other financial, waste, emergency planning and safety issues relating to the proposed Sizewell C development. Amongst its conclusions was that Sizewell would urbanise a rural area, it is too small for the planned development, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and on an eroding coast.
- Paul Collins of the Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell C profiled a second film which showed how much land would be taken over by such an industrial development by the plans of EDF Energy.
- Chair of Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group, Professor Andrew Blowers, concluded the meeting by considering the real threats to the development from the impact of climate change. This included two maps which showed stark amounts of land that would be inundated by flooding by 2100. He also quoted the core finding of the National Infrastructure Commission, advisor to the the UK Government that: “New nuclear power stations are unlikely to be an additional source of electricity in the 2020s, with the possible exception of Hinkley Point C. Making decisions now such as committing to a fleet of nuclear power plants, rules out a more diverse future generation mix and the potential this has to reduce costs to consumers.”
A number of follow-up meetings, marches and events are planned in the near future, once the public health emergency around coronavirus is resolved. The presentations and this media release will be shared with all Suffolk County Councillors and East Suffolk District Councillors, as well as parish councillors. Over a quarter of the audience was made up of local parish, town, district and county councillors. It was reported that the joint opposition group on Suffolk County Council had put a motion to its full council meeting that it should reject the principal of supporting the development of Sizewell C.
NFLA Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“It was clear to me in chairing this public meeting that there is a passionate local concern over the negative impacts of Sizewell C on the east Suffolk landscape, directly affecting and endangering many rare mammals, birds and flowers. There also remains major concerns over the future impact of coastal erosion and climate change. There are currently difficult issues for EDF in finding the available finance for the plant, which may only be found from an effective huge public subsidy. It is clear to the NFLA that the impacts of Sizewell C would be hugely detrimental to the local area and any supposed benefits of electricity generation could be more than met from renewable and decentralised energy alternatives. We call on all the local parish, town, district and county councils to come out in opposition to Sizewell C and work with NFLA and other groups to ensure that the huge environmental risks of this development never come to fruition.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for Editors:
(1) Presentations from NFLA English Forum public meeting in Saxmundham, Suffolk, 14th March