The new Sizewell C nuclear power station could face the axe under the UK Government’s attempts to find cost savings.
Despite Sizewell C gaining final approval as one of Boris Johnson’s last acts as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are supposedly looking at axing the project to save the Government a significant amount of cash.
The UK Government is set to lay out its Autumn Statement on November 17, where it will reveal tax and spending plans that it hopes will get the UK economy back on track. However, it’s widely expected that the UK has a large fiscal hole to fill — meaning projects it previously backed, such as Sizewell C, now face the chop.
Sizewell C was expected to generate 7% of the UK’s total electricity needs upon completion in the 2030s, but environmental campaigners have been concerned about where the new nuclear power station was going to source the more than 2 million litres of water it needed every day.
Boris Johnson had made cutting the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels a key aim of his premiership, with Sizewell C being seen as an important tool in helping the UK move towards a net zero future. Rishi Sunak has not made that the centre of his premiership, with the Prime Minister recently criticised for his plan to skip the COP27 climate conference in Egypt.
Additionally, given Sunak’s opposition to the cheapest form of electricity — onshore wind — many are wondering what he aims to do to wean the UK off of fossil fuels, which are largely responsible for soaring energy bills, in both the short-term and long-term. Many had hoped the construction of a new nuclear power station at Sizewell C would help, but that appears to currently be up in the air.
However, despite the potential axing of Sizewell C, Sunak pledged to uphold Johnson’s plan to construct eight new nuclear reactors within the UK during his summer campaigning to become leader of the Tory party. It could be that the Government cuts its funding portion and relies more on the private sector. However, the Government had pledged £700 million towards the construction of Sizewell C – a large gap to now fill, especially amidst rumours EDF is running out of money.