The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) note that a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) public petition, raising concerns and opposition to the development of a new nuclear reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk, has had now over 105,000 signatures (1).
One of the key concerns around building Sizewell C is its potential impact to the sensitive local environmental sites adjoining or close to the proposed site. This includes the internationally renowned RPSB Minsmere site and a number of other Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It has been notable in relation to Sizewell C how strong the level of opposition has been from local environmental groups.
Already destroyed, as part of an early stage in this process, is the historic Coronation Wood to make way for a car park for expected staff on the proposed site. This was taken to an unsuccessful legal challenge by local groups and there was much sadness when the wood was felled. EDF Energy have said they will seek to mitigate environmental damage and restore other sites in the area as part of the development and construction of the site, but even local councils have been concerned around the lack of detailed information on some of these areas during the local consultation process. (2)
NFLA have been particularly aware of the level of concern around potential damage to sensitive environmental sites and this was emphasised in presentations given to a public meeting it held in Saxmundham in March 2020. This included presentations from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Suffolk Friends of the Earth, local naturalist Simon Barnes, Beyond Nuclear International, Together Against Sizewell C and Stop Sizewell C. This latest petition from RSPB Minsmere has received huge levels of public support with specific comments made by leading environmentalists and shows real environmental concerns remain. (3)
As well as noting in some detail real concern that the development could damage sensitive fauna and rare species, the speakers at the NFLA public meeting also highlighted the longer-term concerns over coastal erosion and climate change to the sensitive east coast of England.
NFLA is providing a further opportunity to raise some of these and other local concerns at its upcoming English Forum webinar on the 5th March.(4) Speakers include Pete Wilkinson, Chair of the Together Against Sizewell C group, who will summarise the local concerns on the proposed new nuclear development. Alison Downes, one of the co-ordinators of the Stop Sizewell C group will highlight the financial risks around this project, particularly as it has recently been noted in the national media that core potential private investors like Aviva and Legal & General have suggested they would not wish to invest in the EDF project at Sizewell C. With Professor Stephen Thomas, Alison has produced a detailed report on the financial problems EDF is currently in which could seriously impact on whether it can finance both Hinkley Point C in Somerset and Sizewell C. Hence, this is a major factor in why the UK Government is actively talking with EDF about putting some public money into the project. (5)
The NFLA English Forum webinar is also going to consider another core issue of concern with the application to develop a deep underground / under-sea coalmine on the West Cumbria coast and whether such a development could be used in the future for a deep underground radioactive waste repository. As usual with its meetings, the NFLA will also present why a combination of a wide renewable energy mix, energy efficiency programmes, energy storage and smart energy solutions is an effective alternative that can generate an important post-Covid-19 green recovery, tackling the climate emergency and producing many new and high quality jobs. (6)
NFLA English Forum and Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I welcome the RSPB petition on Sizewell C and the fact that there has been well over 100,000 signatures to it emphasises the depth of local and wider environmental concerns that exists over this industrial development. I urge local councillors and activists in Suffolk and Essex, where the other new nuclear site at Bradwell is under consideration, to attend our upcoming webinar. There is a much more effective, cheaper and easily realisable alternative to new nuclear and its hugely expensive development, and NFLA believes it is time for a new energy policy that completely places renewable energy, demand management and energy storage at its heart. Other countries have embraced it, now is the time to do so here.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)7771 930196.
Notes to Editors:
(2) See for example Suffolk County Council statement, 11th September 2020
(3) Presentations and video from NFLA English Forum public meeting on the Sizewell and Bradwell proposed new nuclear reactors, 14th March 2020
(4) NFLA English Forum spring 2021 webinar –
(5) Financing Hinkley Point and EDF’s financial problems, Professor Stephen Thomas and Alison Downes, August 2020
(6) NFLA Policy Briefing 207 on green recovery, 9th November 2020