Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) has written to every Member of Parliament to demand that plans to site two new nuclear reactors at Sizewell are cancelled.
Following news that similar plans for new nuclear reactors at Moorside in Cumbria, Wylfa in Wales and Oldbury in Gloucestershire are now unlikely to go ahead, TASC supports the recent calls for a halt to the current programme of new nuclear build and for a root and branch review of the energy policy involving the public and stakeholders.
TASC Chairperson, Pete Wilkinson, said today, ‘The ill-advised energy policy the government has been supporting ever since Blair announced it in 2005 has become a yoke around its neck. In the last decade, government has been faced yet again with the uncomfortable truth that nuclear is expensive, dangerous, technically complicated and a very bad choice if the objective is to meet cost, climate change and electricity demand targets. Investors are increasingly nervous about funding what is essentially a redundant technology. Nuclear generates huge amounts of radioactive waste, of which some remains lethal to living organisms for centuries and for which there is no acceptable management solution. Electricity demand is falling and the cost of renewables is becoming more and more competitive as their efficiency increases. People are realizing the scale of disruption to their environment and their way of life for new nuclear stations, which are little more than white elephants that are likely to be, by the time they are constructed, surplus to requirements. It is time to recognize, as Margaret Thatcher was forced to do in the 80s, that nuclear is not an investable option.’
TASC calls on all MPs to put as much effort and encouragement behind energy decentralization, efficiency and conservation as it has given to the nuclear industry for decades. It further calls on the trades unions to end its fixation for nuclear and look at the tens of thousands of long-term jobs that a renewables-driven energy sector will provide.
Chris Wilson, TASC Press Officer added, ‘We recognize there would be some jobs for east Suffolk residents resulting from Sizewell C but to create them by destroying the environment, by devastating an area of outstanding natural beauty(AONB), changing the way of life for thousands and forcing people from their homes is not the way to do it. We also need to recognize the jobs EDF claim to be available for Sizewell are overwhelmingly short-term positions of little more than a year. So over a 12 year build they represent far lower equivalent numbers of full-time jobs. EDF want to move thousands of their workforce from the Hinkley C project so there will be very few jobs available to locals. As has been evidenced at Hinkley, the transfer of skilled workers, from local employers to EDF have had a negative impact on those local businesses. East Suffolk will suffer the boom and bust consequences of thousands of outside workers so TASC feel it is far more important to protect the current sustainable jobs in our buoyant tourist industry, and, perhaps, look at encouraging new technology businesses into the area. This would leave our precious coastal assets such as Minsmere and Sizewell Belts intact for the enjoyment of present and future generations.’
Here is a copy of the letter that has been sent to all M.Ps:
Dear Member of Parliament,
We are hoping to enlist your support to protect Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) from the environmental destruction which will be caused by EDF’s plans to build two new EPR nuclear reactors within the AONB and on the SSSI.
In their 2018 Living Planet Report the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) warns that there has been, on average, a 60% loss in vertebrate species monitored in the last 34 years. This underlines the need to protect our designated landscape and wildlife areas.
The UK government has promised that, after Brexit, environmental protection will be greater than currently in place. The Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, stated in 2018 that the environment will be in a healthier condition 25 years hence. It is hard to see how allowing major construction in an AONB, renowned for the quality of its wildlife, and destroying a SSSI meets these goals. Of the places put forward by the government as being potential sites for a new nuclear power station, Sizewell is the only one in an AONB so surely it should be excluded from consideration at this stage in any event. This is particularly relevant given the recent recommendation by the National Infrastructure Commission that the UK should only consider one further nuclear power station, at most, after Hinkley Point C (HPC).
We are very concerned about the impact there will be on the marine environment and the local fishing industry as a result of the proposed construction. EDF say that Sizewell C will replicate HPC in Somerset. There, it has been reported that the sea water cooling system for the existing Hinkley B nuclear power station kills 750,000kg of fish per year and that HPC will quadruple the water intake. Smaller marine organisms will also be killed by being drawn into the cooling system. This level of destruction will be replicated at Sizewell and will severely impact the marine environment.
The Met Office UK Climate Projections 2018 Report says that as a result of climate change the whole of the UK, especially East Anglia, will suffer considerable sea level rise and storm surges causing serious flooding and a realignment of the coast. It also states that warmer temperatures will create hotter summer drought conditions, which is particularly relevant to Suffolk, especially its many farmers, as it already suffers from low rainfall and water shortages. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/2018/ukcp18-launch-pr
It has been calculated that the Sizewell B & C nuclear power stations will consume 20% of the potable water available in the East Suffolk catchment area. This level of consumption is not considered compatible with the water demands of households, farmers and internationally recognised wetland wildlife habitats in one of the driest parts of the country.
The French environment minister, Francois de Rugy was reported by Reuters in November 2018 as having stated, in respect of EDF’s EPR nuclear reactor design, “….the technological reliability, safety and competitiveness of EPR’s has not been proven”
A recent study by the French environment agency, Ademe, has said that there is no economic case for new nuclear. It is time the UK government recognised this to be true.
New nuclear power stations have not been able to attract commercial investors due to understandable doubts about their commercial viability and concerns about their future relevance, so the government are in the throes of adapting a scheme called the regulated asset base (RAB) which will pass on the financial risks to the taxpayers and/or electricity consumers here in the UK
The Americans used a similar scheme as RAB, the Advance Cost Recovery scheme, to finance large infrastructure projects, including new nuclear power stations, resulting in billions of costs to consumers but not one kilowatt of electricity produced-reported at (with sound recording of presentation available):
A typical example is the V C Summer project in South Carolina which was abandoned in 2017, years before completion but after incurring $9bn in costs, nearly $2bn of which had already been charged in advance to their customers.
A blank cheque is offered by Government to civil nuclear power despite its absurdly high costs, lack of public support and intractable waste problems. The only rational explanation for this seems to be the close link to the UK’s military nuclear ambitions. The military link has not been widely or freely acknowledged to the public or within parliament, therefore kept outside the democratic process. The military link is highlighted on page 10 of a government report at:
https://www.nssguk.com/media/1472/nssg-strategic-plan-update-2018.pdf and is addressed in this article at:
There are an increasing number of studies identifying a link between low-level radiation, such as that emitted by nuclear power stations, and poor health, particularly in women, babies, infants and embryos. Recent articles include:
and pages 8-12 of
Nuclear power stations produce a toxic legacy in the form of radioactive waste some of which will remain lethal for over 100,000 years. Even though we have produced nuclear waste for sixty years, there is still no proven safe way, anywhere in the world, of dealing with this waste for its entire life. The new high-burn nuclear power stations proposed for the UK, including Hinkley C, will create waste that is far more radioactive and therefore a much greater amount of waste in radiological terms. This will add to the environmental and financial burden for future generations.
If approved, in 2021 EDF plan to commence construction of Sizewell C’s two EPR reactors in Suffolk’s AONB, encroaching on the Sizewell Marshes SSSI, bordering a Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation and Ramsar site, RSPB Minsmere, taking 10/12 years to complete with 24/7 light, noise and air pollution. For EDF’s 2nd consultation, the RSPB set out their concerns in the following response
Additional new roads, rail improvements, beach landing facilities for Sizewell C will disrupt and degrade local environmental quality while the mining, milling and processing of uranium all create massive amounts of upfront greenhouse gases adding to the carbon footprint from the huge quantities of concrete and steel used in construction. The back end of the nuclear cycle itself is entirely unknown in terms of its carbon footprint, given the unknowns about the location, depth, conditioning and transport needs of the repository to contain the waste. The term “low carbon” applied to nuclear power is misplaced given the carbon-heavy elements in its life cycle. This matter is considered in the following article:
In October 2018 the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report for the COP24 conference and it states we only have 12 years to combat climate change so the huge upfront carbon footprint from Sizewell C will hinder, not help, our climate change goals. The high-burn nuclear waste from Sizewell C will be stored on site on the eroding, flood-prone coast, and therefore a danger, for up to 160 years.
New nuclear was proposed by government in 2006 due to their perceived urgent need at that time “to keep the lights on”. Despite there being zero electricity produced by new nuclear in the last 12 years and none likely to be produced in the next seven years, if ever, the lights haven’t gone out nor are they expected to. Along with others, TASC has already demonstrated to government (Dept. for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy-“BEIS”) that the UK’s climate change, electricity demand and cost constraint targets can be met without nuclear power. Renewables are safer, cheaper and quicker to deploy and create more sustainable employment opportunities.
The Suffolk coastal area is hosting the infrastructure necessary to bring electricity interconnectors and offshore windfarms to the UK. Sizewell C will add to the burden on the local environment, famed for its landscape and biodiversity, and will devastate the Suffolk Coast AONB and with it the lucrative tourist industry. It is the wrong technology in the wrong place at the wrong time and needs to be stopped.
MPs have never been presented with an energy policy which does not include a nuclear component and therefore have been denied the opportunity to examine the benefits of non-nuclear energy options. New nuclear plants are not an imperative for the UK: they neither increase energy security nor reduce climate change gases across their life cycle. In fact, the greater availability of nuclear material they create increases the insecurity the UK faces today in this world of terrorism and division.
Please help stop Sizewell C being built by calling for an emergency debate questioning the inclusion of new nuclear power stations in future UK energy policy and call for the Secretary of State for BEIS to be brought before the energy select committee to justify new nuclear being included in the future energy mix.
Peter Wilkinson, Chairman, Together Against Sizewell C