All posts by Alison Downes

35,000 tell government: don’t raise our energy bills to subsidise new nuclear plant

Community and consumer campaigners say the “regulated asset base” funding model will expose electricity bill-payers to huge cost and habitual overspends of nuclear developers such as EDF


[LONDON] Today, campaigners from Sizewell, Hinkley Point and Bradwell nuclear sites and  consumer group SumOfUs will visit the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to deliver a 35,454-signature petition protesting the government’s proposal to subsidise new nuclear power plants by hiking energy bills.

The petition calls on the government to scrap plans to subsidise the nuclear industry through a “regulated asset base” (RAB) funding model, under which consumers would be forced to pay a surcharge on their energy bills for new nuclear power projects such as Sizewell C in Suffolk and Bradwell B in Essex.

“Government Ministers need to think again about the u-turn that is this “Ridiculous Atomic Bailout” said Alison Downes of Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell. “Hinkley Point has proven that this generation of new nuclear is a non-starter commercially, but making us, the consumer, pay through our electricity bills to build something so expensive, outdated, slow and politically unpopular is unacceptable, especially in such environmentally sensitive locations as Sizewell and Bradwell.” 

Of the 35,454 people who have signed the SumOfUs petition, 2,932 are EDF customers and 14,689 are customers who have chosen a renewable electricity tariff. Over 4,000 people have also contacted BEIS directly to raise their objections to the RAB funding model through a SumOfUs action page.

“It is preposterous that consumers should be forced to subsidise private corporations,” said Sondhya Gupta, campaigns manager at SumOfUs. “Nuclear energy is a technology fraught with difficulties and there are better, cheaper and more sustainable options out there to help guarantee our energy security. It’s time the government listened to what bill payers want.”

Originally intended to be part of an Energy White Paper, BEIS quietly pushed its consultation on the controversial RAB model out in mid July. The scheme has attracted significant criticism, especially in the light of EDF’s announced £3 billion overspend at Hinkley Point, to which the BBC’s Simon Jack respondedMaking a forty-year bet on another nuclear station with a funding model that exposes consumers to those overruns, is a big call for any government to make.” The consultation closes on 14 October.

“Hinkley Point C will cost consumers somewhere between £27bn and £50bn over 35 years. Rather than admit that nuclear power is far too expensive, especially after cost estimates for the new station have leaped by £3bn to £23bn, the Government has come up with a new way to fleece consumers which shifts the risk for future reactors onto hard pressed bill payers. Time for them to drop this ridiculous plan now.” said Sue Aubrey of Stop Hinkley.

“The fact is that without this model, EDF cannot pay for Sizewell”  said Chris Wilson of Together Against Sizewell C. “The Moorside and Wylfa fiascos show us that without massive subsidies, nuclear projects will crash and burn. Instead of tying us to expensive white elephants, Government should instead be looking for ways to accelerate the growth of renewable energy, which is cheaper and quicker to deliver, and transforming energy distribution to a more flexible grid which removes the need for “baseload” energy.“

“In addition to opposing new nuclear build altogether BANNG vigorously objects to the RAB approach. This effectively gives an unquantified scale of financial support to overseas states (in respect of EDF and CGN) governed by a new, zero track record regulator with a vested interest in maintaining their own livelihoods” said Peter Banks of BANNG.

The community groups taking part in the petition delivery are Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell, Together Against Sizewell C, Blackwater Against New Nuclear (BANNG, Bradwell), Stop Hinkley, the B1122 Action Group (Sizewell) and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group.


Notes to editors:

  1. View photos from the petition delivery here:
  2. View the SumOfUs petition:
  3. View a briefing on the regulated asset base funding model produced by Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell:  


For comment and more details, please contact: Sondhya Gupta – 07811186937, sondhya, Alison Downes – 07711 843884,

Campaigners slam ‘fiction’ of EDF’s job and economic promises


Local campaign groups have reacted with concern to the research released today by the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation (DMO), [1] which undermines EDF’s claim that Sizewell C will bring significant numbers of jobs and economic benefit to the area. 

“This new research concludes that losses to the vital local tourism sector could amount to £40 million a year and could cost 400 jobs. It drives a bulldozer through the promised economic benefits claimed for Sizewell C,” said Alison Downes, co-chair of the Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS). 

EDF’s target is for 2000 ‘home-based’ workers, but defines ‘home-based’ as up to 90 minutes’ drive away, plus 500 workers on associated developments. EDF acknowledges this is an ambitious target but claims it is realistic. A further 3,600 workers – and potentially thousands more given that EDF is modelling a possible workforce of up to 7,900 – will be from more than 90 minutes’ drive away, and have to be accommodated in the local area.

“For the full impact on business and employment, you have got to consider all the negatives of Sizewell C too,” states Charles Macdowell of the B1122 Action Group, which covers several villages near the site. “Suffolk Coastal has the lowest unemployment in the East of England, with only 445 registered jobseekers at the last count in 2015. [2]. Hotels, restaurants and shops will have to compete hard for scarcer workers. Farming and public services like health and social care are also likely to be affected.”

As well as having to recruit and train new employees to replace those lost to EDF, tourism and other local businesses will be badly hit by the decade-long traffic congestion associated with the construction project, further hurting their competitiveness.

The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB has a tourism value of at least £200 million pounds a year. [3] EDF claims it will pump £100 million into the ‘local’ economy but campaigners are sceptical about how much of this will be felt in the immediate area, especially when offset against tourism and other losses. A 2017 Oxford Economics report on the economic impact of Sellafield found that where there is a low level of specialist skills locally, direct labour costs and supply chain ‘spend’ inevitably flows out of the local economy. [4] 

“Many people, including some in local government, think that Sizewell C’s jobs make it worthwhile despite its devastating effect on the environment, traffic and Suffolk’s famed peace and tranquility. We consider this a fiction. With the vast majority of workers on Sizewell C coming from outside the area, and the losses to our valued tourism industry, we are deeply concerned that the economic impact of Sizewell C in the immediate vicinity will be negative.” said Alison.



EDF’s Hinkley Excuses undermine its case at sizewell

25 September 2019: EDF’s announcement today about the risks of cost and time overruns at Hinkley Point undermine its own arguments in favour of proposed twin EPR build at Sizewell C, where the fourth – and final – stage of public consultations ends this Friday, 27 September.

EDF has been giving assurances that the cost increases at Hinkley Point would not hit the consumer, [1] yet EDF is known to be pinning its hopes for financing Sizewell C on the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) under which consumers would pay for Sizewell from the outset. 

“Today’s news shows all of us that using RAB for Sizewell C is a terrible idea; the government seriously needs to think again about using this model for new nuclear, where price setting would be such a regulatory minefield, given that on EDF’s EPRs the cost overruns and delays are of such epic proportions. And these risks are in addition to the huge risks of building twin reactors in such an environmentally sensitive location as Sizewell” said Alison Downes of Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS) [2]

Paul Spence of EDF’s comments also highlight the possibility of Sizewell being delayed, saying the company would be “taking the Hinkley Point design which will be absolutely completed at that point and taking the same team to Sizewell as the best way to get a low cost construction”. 

“EDF’s comments proves that the schedule for Sizewell will be wholly dependent on the schedule for Hinkley, adding yet more uncertainty, especially as further delays at Hinkley cannot be ruled out. Local people are already cynical about the benefits of Sizewell C if EDF is reliant on utilising its existing Hinkley workforce and supply chain to save money in Suffolk. Coupled with the release today of a report by the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation outlining potential impacts on tourism [3], we are forced to conclude that the promised economic benefits of Sizewell C are very unlikely to be felt in the immediate area, and will be overwhelmingly outweighed by the negative impacts” added Alison Downes.

1. at 8.41 of the interview with EDF’s Paul Spence 
2. TEAGS has prepared a briefing on RAB, outlining the specific risks for potential new investors of EDF’s Sizewell C project, which is beset by major challenges being in a location known for its restricted size, environmental sensitivity and limited infrastructure. See
TEAGS is also supporting a consumer campaign by Sum of Us to oppose the use of RAB for Sizewell.
3. Suffolk Coast DMO report on tourism impacts—Final.pdf

Council frustrated as key questions on Sizewell C remain unanswered

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Suffolk County Council has unanimously approved its joint response to the Sizewell C stage four consultation – but said it was disappointed questions over key issues remain unanswered.

Action groups protest outside Endeavour House, as consultations take place over Sizewell C. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

Action groups protest outside Endeavour House, as consultations take place over Sizewell C. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

Cabinet met yesterday, Tuesday, September 24, to discuss the consultation and to vote on its response to EDF Energy.

More than 20 people staged a protest outside Endeavour House in Ipswich before the meeting to voice their concerns about the £14billion project.

Cabinet members said they had been disappointed the energy firm hadn’t addressed concerns raised by Suffolk County and East Suffolk Councils since the previous consultation and the apparent lack of progress on a rail-led strategy to transport construction materials.

Councillor Richard Smith, chairman of the Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG), said: “Most disappointing is not what it says but what it doesn’t say.ADVERTISING

Jenny Kirtley of Together Against Sizewell C. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

Jenny Kirtley of Together Against Sizewell C. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

“By the end of stage three we had generated a list of 300 issues we wanted EDF Energy to address.

“Each and every one of these issues are important to us as they arise from what the people of Suffolk want to see addressed.”

He added: “We said very clearly at the first stage of consultation, to move forward with our report and support the power station we must be confident the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.”

Councillor Mary Evans said the consultation included a “sorry apology for a transport strategy”.

Alison Downes of Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

Alison Downes of Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

She said: “Suffolk County Council understands the benefit of Sizewell C will have in terms of electricity supply and hundreds of skilled jobs.

“But I am not alone in being fearful of the impact.”

Issues over the negative impact the project could have on the environment and surrounding Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were also discussed.

Councillor Richard Rout said more information was needed to get a full picture of the impact it would have on Suffolk’s coastline.

He said: “There’s still a stark and significant lack of detail in how it will impact on ecology of the areas affected.

Councillor David Wood, from the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent (LDGI) Group, said Sizewell C was a “monstrous proposal” and described the consultation as having been “woefully inaccurate”.

He urged cabinet to reject the plans altogether.

Protests in Ipswich over plans for new power station on Suffolk coast

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Protests have been taking place in Ipswich over plans for a new power station on the Suffolk coast.

Various groups gathered outside Suffolk County Council where the cabinet was discussing EDF’s proposal to build Sizewell C.

Some are opposed to the project, others say the company should do more to reduce the impact on the local environment.

Some are opposed to the project, others say the company should do more to reduce the impact on the local environment.
Some are opposed to the project, others say the company should do more to reduce the impact on the local environment. Credit: ITV Anglia

Alison Downes, Action Group on Sizewell said: “There are too many studies that haven’t been initiated or shared. Independent studies on road routes, how it will affect the community and the most serious is about the environmental impacts.”

Public consultation ends on Friday, with EDF likely to submit their application to the Planning Inspectorate in the New Year.

“When we’ve completed the consultation process, we’ll then start performing an environmental impact assessment. That will have all the details on what we expect the impact to be and our proposals to mitigate those impacts for the benefit of everyone who lives in this area.”


EADT 16 september 2019

WATCH: Thousands meet in Love Minsmere campaign against new power station at Sizewell C

Thousands of people were joined by Suffolk celebrities to show their love for Minsmere in the face of plans to build a third nuclear reactor at Sizewell.

Read/Watch online ‘Stop the Station!’: Exclusive interviews with Bill Turnbull and Diana Quick on saving Suffolk wildlife from SizewellVideo: Rachel Edge EDF plans reveal they would build on the RSPB site which could potentially destroy wildlife.

The 'Love Minsmere' festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

The ‘Love Minsmere’ festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

The Suffolk coastal locals were joined by TV and radio presenter Bill Turnbull and actress Diana Quick who spoke out against the plans to extend the power plant, in a bid to protect the wildlife at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve.

Turnbull spoke at the gathering, which saw an estimated 1,500 attendees create a huge human heart on the grounds of the reserve, just a day after chairing a public meeting where locals heard from Sizewell C opponent Richard Cuttell.

At Sunday’s Love Minsmere Festival, Turnbull said: “I live just a couple of miles away so Minsmere is right on my doorstep, as is Sizewell.

“It’s a beautiful place to come to and the work they have done here is remarkable.

The 'Love Minsmere' festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

The ‘Love Minsmere’ festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

“The difficulty is that is all now at risk because of the proposal to put a huge, massive nuclear power station right on the doorstep.

“[Minsmere] is a treasure chest of wildlife and we need to make sure we don’t put it at risk.

“Anybody who loves nature has got to think that’s a bit nuts.”

Quick added: “[Minsmere] is full of sites of special scientific interest and areas of outstanding natural beauty and all of that could be is going to be very compromised if Sizewell C goes ahead.”

The 'Love Minsmere' festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

The ‘Love Minsmere’ festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

During the meeting on Saturday morning at St Peter’s Church, Theberton, near Saxmundham, opponents to the proposed power station were urged to “keep fighting” by Turnbull.

Mr Cuttell, who was a key opponent to Sizewell C’s sister power station at Hinkley point in Somerset, told attendees to “question everything and keep fighting”, adding: “All I can suggest is persevere and put as much effort in as is humanly possible.”

After his presentation, Mr Turnbull – who lives nearby – said he was “grateful for the advice” Mr Cuttell gave, but added: “It made me feel pretty sick.”

EDF Energy says a new plant next to its existing Sizewell B and A stations is critical to meeting the country’s energy needs.

The 'Love Minsmere' festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

The ‘Love Minsmere’ festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

“Our aim is to maximise the huge benefits in jobs and skills for local people, especially the young, whilst minimising the environmental impact of the project,” a spokesman for the company said.