Plans for a major new nuclear power station on the coast of East Anglia have been given the go-ahead.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today announced that development consent was granted for the twin reactor Sizewell C nuclear plant to be built in Suffolk.
It is intended that Sizewell C will generate enough low-carbon electricity to supply six million homes.
The application was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by NNB Nuclear Generation in May 2020 and accepted for examination the following month.
The current Sizewell Nuclear Plants site consists of two power stations – Sizewell A and B – but with today’s approval, it will be joined by a third station – Sizewell C
The government has given development consent for the planned Sizewell C nuclear plant (pictured) to be built in southeast England
The inspectorate’s chief executive, Sarah Richards said: ‘The examining authority listened and gave full consideration to local views and the evidence gathered during the examination before making its recommendation.’
Carly Vince, Sizewell C’s Chief Planning Officer, said: ‘I am delighted that, after months of careful consideration, the Government has given planning consent for Sizewell C. It is a big endorsement of our proposals and supports our view that this is the right project in the right place.
‘I would like to thank the thousands of people in East Suffolk who contributed to our consultation sessions and the public examination.
‘The input of residents, local authorities, environmental groups and many others has helped us to improve our plans.
‘We will continue to work closely with them to make sure we minimise the impacts of construction and maximise the huge opportunities for the area.’
Negotiations with the Government on raising funds for the project are continuing and a Financial Investment Decision is expected in 2023.
The plant will be capable of producing enough power for around 6 million homes, is majority-owned by French utility EDF and is to be built on a site in Sizewell (pictured) a small fishing village in Suffolk
Charlotte Childs, GMB national officer, said: ‘Sizewell C is essential for meeting our energy challenges. This is a vital step forward for energy security and net zero.
‘The UK’s nuclear programme has been delayed too many times due to political decisions. We need further investment in nuclear to secure good jobs for the future.
‘This project is essential for jobs and skills and hitting our environmental targets. It is clear – there can be no net zero without new nuclear.’
But the project is not without its critics.
A spokesman for campaign group Stop Sizewell C said: ‘The wrong decision has been made but it’s not the end of our campaign.
‘It’s deeply concerning, given that households will have to pay for this massively expensive project in times of such hardship, that no one in Government is prepared to come clean about how much it will cost to build.’
The current Sizewell Nuclear Plants site (pictured) consists of two power stations – Sizewell A and B – but with today’s approval, it will be joined by a third site – Sizewell C
Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, Dr Doug Parr, said: ‘The contrast between dynamic, cost-cutting and innovative technologies in the renewables sector and the limping behemoths of new nuclear power could barely be more striking.
‘Rather than wasting time and money on this red herring energy solution, the Government should throw everything at making cheaper, cleaner and more reliable renewables the backbone of our energy system.
‘Whatever else is going on in UK politics at the moment, there’s no sign of a fresh start here.’
Beccy Speight, chief executive of the RSPB, said the charity was ‘extremely disappointed’ at the approval of the power plant that would affect its nature reserve at Minsmere in Suffolk, and which went against the advice of Government experts.
She said: ‘The construction of the proposed development will be damaging and it has been granted with insufficient consideration for the effects on nature as described by the Government’s own experts.’
‘This is a ludicrous decision for an interim government to make,’ she continued, adding that the RSPB would be considering its options in response to the decision.
Elsewhere, Senior deputy general secretary of Prospect union Sue Ferns said: ‘We now need the Government to bring forward its investment decision as a matter of urgency so the project can progress.
‘Approving the funding for Sizewell C will send a firm signal to investors that the Government is committed to new nuclear delivering energy security and taking us to Net Zero.
‘This week’s extreme temperatures have shown that we cannot afford to delay decarbonising our energy supply.’