TOGETHER AGAINST SIZEWELL C
We would like to thank those of you who have taken the difficult decision to oppose the policy of ‘in principle support’ for Sizewell C and for coming to the inevitable conclusion that the perceived benefits of the proposed development are far outweighed by the costs to the people, environment and economy of East Suffolk.
It is appreciated that the Sizewell C DCO application is very complex and we are grateful that you are concerned by the many difficulties it presents, perhaps the most significant being that the 918 acre main SZC development site is set in the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB which contains the remains of the Suffolk Sandlings and is surrounded by the many environmental designations including SSSIs, RAMSAR, SAC, SPA etc. This begs the question of why it was included in the National Planning Policy EN6 as a “potential site” when it is clearly totally unsuitable in size or location for a development of this scale and nature.
Despite the many and obvious environmental problems associated with a development which, including the Sizewell B relocation of facilities to make way for Sizewell C, is likely to take between 12-14 years to complete, TASC believe many Councillors are either undecided or of the opinion that Sizewell C is in the best interests of the electorate.
We ask them to consider the following:
Within the next few weeks, you will be required to speak up for those who elected you on a matter which will affect the lives of all of us living in East Suffolk, our children and their children for years to come – whether you, as elected representatives of communities in Suffolk, should vote to recommend support or refusal for the planning application for Sizewell C.
TASC would not presume to tell you how to cast your vote: we, as members of the electorate, have to place our faith and trust in you to do what is right, but we would expect you to be in full possession of the facts before you make up your mind. To vote without being fully aware of the consequences would indeed be a dereliction of duty.
In the interests of balance, being aware that Councillors are routinely bombarded with EdF propaganda, we draw your attention to the following, points which are not opinions or ‘spin’ but facts:
FACT: As well as a new rail line, there will be miles of new roads and seven new roundabouts to accommodate up to 1,140 HGVs and 700 buses a day, not to mention thousands of daily car and van journeys. Quite apart from the protracted and 24 hour a day disruption to life in the extended area around the site, from Woodbridge to Lowestoft, with the prospect of a decade of gridlock, air, noise, light and dust pollution, rat-runs making life hell for people in once-quiet and peaceful villages, the scale of the development is colossal and will change the landscape of East Suffolk for ever – just look at the pictures of what people in Somerset around the town of Bridgwater are suffering https://youtu.be/UKWhHYQASAE . That is not in the interests of those who elected you.
FACT: EdF’s claims that there are 25,000 jobs to be had at Sizewell does not bear scrutiny. These are ‘job roles’, not jobs as we would know them – a few thousand during the construction period and only 900 long term jobs. In an attempt to save money, EDF will import most of the supply chain and the majority of approximately 6,000, workers from Hinkley. In an area which has the lowest unemployment levels in the country already, most of the 2,600 local jobs on offer by EdF will be unskilled and filled by people living within the 90 minutes travel to work area – i.e. outside east Suffolk, quite possibly outside the county. Existing businesses will lose experienced staff to EDF: in the Bridgwater area, the care industry has suffered, and there will be jobs lost due to the impact of the project on the tourism industry. The Suffolk Coast tourism body says that tourists “will seek…peace and tranquillity elsewhere.”
That’s not in the interests of those who elected you either.
FACT: Suffolk is one of the driest regions in the country and EDF admit that Sizewell C is expected to consume up to 3 million litres of drinking water each day during construction and then during 60 years of operation. The DCO documents also reveal that the cooling water intake pipes will entrain huge volumes of marine life daily when sucking in 2.5 billion gallons of sea water as the main source of cooling.
This is not a sustainable use of scarce resources.
FACT: In an attempt to squeeze the whole nuclear plant into the 32 hectare site, EDF are planning to cut into the Heritage Coast with an imposing 33 foot-high sea wall (which will be constructed in a way to facilitate its increase to 48 foot when sea levels rise) towering over the coast path, adding to the visual scar that the Sizewell C industrial complex will make on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The new link road from the A12 will cut the AONB in two, the site access road will cover 12 hectares of the Sizewell Marshes SSSI with concrete, the 7 new roundabouts, new railway line, other roads and huge laydown areas will all negatively impact Suffolk’s fragile environment.
To allow this level of environmental damage to the AONB is not in the best interests of Suffolk residents and does not meet the government’s 25 year plan for the environment.
FACT: EdF claims that nuclear is low carbon. Experts disagree. Some say that nuclear power displaces electricity on the grid from genuinely low carbon renewables and that it will continue to release climate change gases throughout the 60 year life of the plant due to operating discharges which are unavoidable, long after the UK is supposed to go carbon net zero. Unlike renewables which are quickly deployed and quick to contribute to greenhouse gas reduction, if Sizewell C is ever constructed, it will be far too late to be of any value to the critical task of achieving carbon net zero: it will take too long to build and deploy.
That’s not in the best interests of those who elected you either.
FACT: EdF claim that Sizewell C is ‘shovel ready’ and will help the economy in a post-covid world but the earliest the project could start is 2022. More jobs would be created by investing a proportion of the amount Sizewell would cost in retrofitting existing properties to make them better insulated and more energy efficient – the most cost-effective way of reducing carbon outputs while creating long-term sustainable jobs, as well as leading to cheaper energy bills.
This would be a far better option for Suffolk residents as it would avoid the inevitable ‘boom and bust’ that result from large infrastructure projects.
FACT: The UK has the greatest availability of wind power in the whole of Europe with the capacity to generate far more than we need to meet our electricity requirements. Wind power is free on delivery, truly low-carbon and does not produce radioactive waste that is a burden on future generations for millennia. Conservation, micro-technology, efficiency, decentralisation incorporating the rapidly developing energy storage technology is an energy future which offers more jobs, less pollution, less waste and a much earlier and more effective boost to carbon reduction.
This would be a more environmentally friendly, sustainable option for Suffolk, and the UK generally.
FACT: Recent EDF adverts claim that nuclear is ‘always on’ but all nuclear plants have planned outages of at least 6 weeks every 18 months as well as unplanned closures. The UK currently has a nuclear capacity of 9GW but is only producing less than 5GW, part of the reduction being due to one of Sizewell B’s turbines being turned off since 07/05/20 to manage the stability of the electricity system.
This highlights the sort of misleading information included in EDF’s statements.
Look at EdF itself: it is hugely in debt to the tune of Euros 41bn. It has massive liabilities in France from its domestic nuclear refurbishment and decommissioning programme thought to be around Euros 150bn. With the problem-ridden Flamanville, covid-delayed Hinkley, the burden of finding Euros 20bn for Sizewell and seemingly impossible-to-complete Olkiluoto, EdF are another Euros 100 bn in the red. No wonder its finance director resigned in 2016 and no wonder that it had to admit to the planning inspectorate and the Secretary of State that it does not have the money with which to complete Sizewell C. The company is riven with disagreement with some claiming that the EPR design destined for Sizewell is too complicated to construct.
FACT: EdF has acknowledged to the planning inspector and to government that it cannot finance the Sizewell C project. Instead, it has requested that the UK government impose a tariff on all electricity bill payers, in addition to providing EdF with government loans and guarantees, which EdF will use to build the plant. In short, the UK taxpayer and billpayer will bear the cost of a nuclear facility which is 83% owned by the French government which EdF has admitted is ‘essential’ to the French nuclear industry’s survival.
FACT: EdF was fined £4.5m by the French public auditor for misleading investors about the cost of the Hinkley Point C nuclear project. It was accused of spreading ‘false information’ about its agreement with the Government to build the plant in Somerset and massaging the share price to an ‘abnormal or artificial level’.
FACT: Henri Proglio, EDF’s chief executive officer at the time, was also fined €50,000 for failure to disclose key changes to the Hinkley Point contract.
FACT: A 5,000 tonne silo, containing ground granulated blast furnace slag, collapsed at the Hinkley site on 10th July.
FACT: EdF has continued to press on with work at Hinkley C throughout the covid crisis despite warnings that it was risking an outbreak among its workforce and the wider community. In July, cement works supplying Hinkley shut down after 38 of 90 staff test positive for the virus.
FACT: In October 2019, an article in France24 on the Folz Report, carried out by the respected Jean-Martin Folz former head of PSA Peugeot Citroen Energy, reported that the investigation concluded that EDF lacked a culture of quality, leading to engineering failings, delays and cost overruns at Flamanville (France), cost overruns at Hinkley Point (UK) and delays at the Olkiluoto plant (Finland). French Government ministers reacted strongly to the report, saying that it underscored an unacceptable lack of rigour at EDF, and that decisions on building more French nuclear reactors could not be taken before EDF has demonstrated the effective running of the EPR.
Is it any wonder that EDF hasn’t released details of the Folz report to local authorities or to its consultees?
We believe that anyone who has taken the time to consider these issues and who is aware of the consistent and unacceptable failings of EdF, as well as the totally inappropriate nature of the proposed site, can only arrive at one conclusion and that is to vote against Sizewell C.
That would be in the interests of those who elected you.
Pete Wilkinson Chairperson of TASC
19 August 2020