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EDF’s plans for Sizewell C nuclear plant got off to an embarrassing start

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The UK Government selected Sizewell as the site of one of the country’s new generation of nuclear power plants, with the Sizewell C reactor set to come online in 2031. Although, the road to get to operating the plant has been rather embarrassing thus far, as revealed in this week’s Gossage.

Smack in the middle of this summer’s Covid-19 lockdown, Electricité de France decided to apply for formal permission to build its long-promised third nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk. To be called, with stunning originality, Sizewell C.  

The company has been spending copious funds, running public exhibitions explaining to residents how they are going to be so super-efficient that the new development would cost a mere £20 billion, making it a snip compared with its – years behind schedule – twin currently being constructed at Hinkley in Somerset.  

Instead of holding more public meetings, the French firm decided to run a mobile-library bus, on which people could check out the latest propaganda. Alas, nobody thought to check whether local car parks could accommodate the bus (they couldn’t). So, the bus was taken initially to a lay-by just off one of the main roads in the county, where it soon became wedged firmly into the grass verge. It then needed a tow-truck surrounded by TV cameras to drag it out, blocking all traffic either way for several hours.  

The relevant highways authority is Suffolk County Council. Precisely the same local authority that has to grant planning permission. In the light of this much publicised debacle, it should have come as no surprise when the usually supine County Council decided on September 22 that it really could not give its backing to the proposals. 

And what reasons did the Council give for this thumbs down? Introducing the formal report, Suffolk’s Cabinet member for the environment and public protection, Richard Rout, complained that, “we remain very disappointed at EDF Energy’s transport strategy… we don’t believe it is a sustainable solution with its massive impact on local communities, with a much higher number of heavy goods vehicles taking to Suffolk’s roads than our existing infrastructure can handle.” Not to mention its lay-bys. 

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