Dear Sir/Madam,

The suggestion (reported in EADT 12/06/19) that all the UK’s electricity bill payers will pay an upfront subsidy/levy to the French government owned EDF to enable the company to build Sizewell C’s twin EPR nuclear reactors on Suffolk’s Heritage Coast underlines the lack of market confidence in nuclear power, both technically and financially. This contrived funding method, called the Regulated Asset Basis (RAB) would transfer the commercial risk of the Sizewell C project from EDF to the customer and appears to be only available to new nuclear projects, even though this is old technology. Surely this would give the nuclear industry an unfair, and totally immoral, advantage over renewables’ contracts. By transferring part of the financial risk, the commercial imperative for EDF to get the plant built on time and within budget is significantly weakened.

Given that EDF’s unfinished flagship project to build their first EPR reactor at Flamanville, France will be at least 8 years behind schedule and 3 times the original budget, the scale of risk to UK consumers and UK taxpayers is further increased beyond the usual expectation that the public purse would be required to bear the excess costs in the event of the inevitable delays or total failure of the project. Consumers could be paying the £6 surcharge for at least 12 years, the actual period being dependent on delays and would all be payable before a single kilowatt of electricity is generated. Given EDF’s previous budgeting failures will we see the £6 figure creep ever upwards? The RAB method of financing has been described by many as giving developers, such as EDF, a blank cheque.

The real cost of Sizewell C will, of course, be the devastation of the environment and the major disruption that the residents, farmers and businesses of East Suffolk will suffer. 1,000 HGV journeys per day; thousands of outside workers travelling to/from the site; 24/7 noise, air and light pollution during the 10/12 year build; elevated road devastating Sizewell Marshes SSSI; new road cutting the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB in two; spoil heaps and borrow pits impacting large areas of the AONB; new roads/railway/7 roundabouts/accommodation blocks/cement batching plant; negative impact on RSPB Minsmere and the waterways; harm to tourism; priority consumption of 2 million litres of drinking water per day; 2.5 billion gallons of sea water sucked daily into the cooling pipes along with tons of fish and other marine life; encroachment on environmentally sensitive coastal strip; permanent structures on the beach; tons of greenhouse gases and other pollutants generated by the mining, milling, fabrication and enrichment of the uranium fuel; tons of carbon generated from the construction of the power station and its infrastructure and from the transportation of materials and personnel; and much more, is a heavy price to pay for a project that is a government choice, not an imperative.

For EDF to propose that electricity consumers cough up billions of pounds, payable to the French government, in advance, for such an assault on our precious coastal environment is an insult and an outrage. Surely now, people of East Suffolk will demand the project is cancelled and that EDF leave us in peace.

Chris Wilson

Category: Local Letters