China Investment in UK Nuclear, 21 October 2015

Campaigners express concern as David Cameron and Xi Jinping sign a deal for China to take a major stake in UK nuclear power stations, including Sizewell

21 October 2015, for immediate release

Contact:  Jon Swallow 01728 830981, jonswallow@btinternet.com        Alison Downes, 07711 843884, alison.downesuk@gmail.com

[East Suffolk] Campaigners representing Theberton and Eastbridge, [1] the community in the frontline of the devastating impacts of constructing Sizewell C, have expressed grave concern at today’s announcement that China will take a significant stake in the UK’s nuclear power programme, investing £6bn in Hinkley Point C. Under a “Head of Terms” agreement, China will take a 20% stake in Sizewell [2] and use its own reactor technology at Bradwell.

TEAGS Chair Jon Swallow said, “This tiny community has spent the last 3 years trying to make EDF change its plans to build a campus for 3,000 workers next to a hamlet of 100 people, and send 600 lorries a day through our village. If China is involved, we fear this will push us even further from the negotiating table.

China’s poor safety record and disregard for community concerns worry us, along with a real fear of how they would treat the environment in this special place. The government may tell us that China must meet UK standards, but with China’s lack of transparency, how far can we trust these assurances?”

Criticisms of Chinese investment in our nuclear power stations have been extensively covered by the media in recent weeks, including the views of senior military and intelligence figures, that giving China a big stake in Britain’s nuclear power industry poses a threat to national security, [3] and serious safety questions about the rigour of Chinese nuclear firms. [4] China’s poor record of respecting the natural environment is a further cause for concern to the residents and countless visitors to this Heritage Coast – a precious haven for wildlife.

TEAGS member Alison Downes said: “Britain and China’s relationship has been a rollercoaster in recent years, with Britain only just clawing its way out of the diplomatic deep freeze. And if the relationship sours again, which it easily could, are we really comfortable about our nuclear power stations, with all their security concerns, being in the hands of a regime that disdains democracy, suppresses free speech, and has a poor record of environmental protection? China has already shown it can make our government bend at will – so how can we have faith that our elected leaders will enforce UK standards?”

Today’s announcement may mean that the next Stage of consultations at Sizewell C will proceed in the coming months. TEAGS wants to see evidence that EDF genuinely intends to be a “good neighbour” and will directly address the concerns of our community, which is expected to bear a disproportionate brunt of the impacts of this build. And whilst we recognise the need for employment in this area, EDF has yet to provide compelling evidence that significant numbers of local people will genuinely benefit.

Jon Swallow added: “We will continue to represent our community, strengthening our relationships with surrounding parishes, in a collective effort to ensure that if Sizewell goes ahead we get the best possible deal for everyone; minimising the impacts on those of us in the frontline and maximising the potential benefits across the wider region.

TEAGS will demand action from our elected representatives to support us in pressing for creative solutions to the challenges of building Sizewell C, including dispersed legacy housing – which this country so badly needs – and a relief road to service the biggest infrastructure project the East of England has ever seen.”

Notes:

  1. Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell [TEAGS] is a community organisation established in 2012. See www.teags.org. It has the full and formal support of the Parish Council. TEAGS is expressly not about nuclear power yes or no, but seeks to protect the community in the face of the biggest building project ever seen in the East of England.
  2. As reported by Reuters, 3pm, 21 October 2015

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/10/21/uk-china-britain-idUKKCN0SF0PS20151021On 16 October The Sunday Times reported “At Sizewell, China is understood to be pushing for a 60% stake and may even insist on inserting its own technology — possibly its own reactor.” http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/Industry/article1620628.ece

  3. The Times, 16 October 2015. Nuclear Deal with China is a Threat to National Security, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4587446.ece
  4. Errors revealed at Chinese nuclear firm seeking to invest in UK plants http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/19/steel-rods-missing-at-chinese-nuclear-firm-seeking-to-invest-in-uk-plants