Energy crisis lifeline: EDF's £20bn Sizewell C nuclear power project APPROVED

Today, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, granted development consent to the Sizewell C nuclear project, which is set to generate enough electricity to power six million homes. France’s state-owned energy firm EDF will now build the new low-carbon electricity generating station in Suffolk. 

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The UK’s Planning Inspectorate has said that this £20billion project it would boost the UK’s energy security by “producing reliable, low-carbon electricity to help Britain achieve Net Zero.”

The approval comes a little over two years after plans for the nuclear power plant were submitted on 27 May 2020. 

Sarah Richards, the Planning Inspectorate’s Chief Executive said: “This examination took place during the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions, and the examining authority worked hard to ensure that local people, the local authorities – East Suffolk District and Suffolk County Council – and other interested parties were able to fully participate.”

“The examining authority listened and gave full consideration to local views and the evidence gathered during the examination before making its recommendation.”

The project will support 70,000 jobs across the UK and rely on over 3,000 UK-based suppliers.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Government has focused heavily on boosting nuclear energy, with a goal to generate a quarter of the UK’s supply from nuclear power by 2050. 

This comes as Britons have been gripped by the worst effects of a fossil fuel energy crisis, with household bills tipped to reach a staggering £3,200 a year by this winter.

EDF is set to build the power plant next to the existing Sizewell B plant, which is currently still operational. while Sizewell A has been decommissioned. 

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According to the French energy firm, the power plant, which would consist of two nuclear reactors, would generate 3.2GW of electricity for about 60 years. 

The UK has allocated £100million to develop the plant and plans to control a 20 percent stake in the project, in a bid to remove China as a major player in the UK’s nuclear industry.

Chinese state-backed energy companies, like China General Nuclear (CGN), have significant investments in several nuclear power stations in the UK

However, the Government is set to purchase a “special share” in Sizewell C will be “complementary” to the takeover rules that allow them to block hostile states from acquiring nuclear projects.

The project has faced opposition from various groups over the past two years, including the nuclear skeptical Austria, which threatened to sue the UK over the power plant.

Meanwhile, Stop Sizeweel C, a campaign group said in a statement: “The Government has been forced to ram through a damaging project to shore up its energy strategy but the fact that the Planning Inspectorate recommended Sizewell C be refused consent is a huge victory for all of us.

“The wrong decision has been made but it’s not the end of our campaign to Stop Sizewell C.

“Not only will we be looking closely at appealing this decision, we’ll continue to challenge every aspect of Sizewell C, because – whether it is the impact on consumers, the massive costs and delays, the outstanding technical questions or the environmental impacts – it remains a bad project and a very bad risk.

What’s left of Boris Johnson’s administration should desist from throwing any more cash at Sizewell C or making a Government Investment Decision.”

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