All posts by Alison Downes

Le Monde de l’energie: EDF candidat à la construction d’une nouvelle centrale nucléaire au Royaume-Uni

EDF candidat à la construction d’une nouvelle centrale nucléaire au Royaume-Uni

 

Le géant français de l’énergie EDF annonce mercredi avoir déposé une demande pour construire une nouvelle centrale nucléaire au Royaume-Uni, le projet Sizewell C, sur le modèle de celle de Hinkley Point.

La candidature a été soumise avec deux mois de retard en raison de la crise du coronavirus, explique EDF Energy, la filiale britannique du groupe, dans un communiqué.

Le processus de sélection devrait prendre 18 mois et ce sera ensuite au gouvernement de valider ou non ce projet de centrale, laquelle se situera dans le Suffolk, sur la côté est anglaise, et sera équipée de deux réacteurs EPR.

D’une puissance totale de 3,2 GW, Sizewell C pourra fournir de l’électricité à 6 millions de foyers et sa construction devrait créer 25.000 emplois, selon EDF.

“Sizewell C est un projet d’infrastructure neutre en émissions carbone et de nature à relancer l’économie après la crise du coronavirus”, estime Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, directeur général de Sizewell C.

“Il permettra de créer des emplois hautement qualifiés et de long terme pour la population du Suffolk et renforcera l’industrie du nucléaire à travers le pays”, selon lui.

Sur le site de Sizewell, il existe deux centrales, Sizewell A ouverte dans les années 1960 et fermée en 2006, et Sizewell B, ouverte en 1995 et encore en opération.

La centrale sera une quasi-réplique de Hinkley Point dans le Somerset (sud-ouest de l’Angleterre) et sera comme cette dernière développée par EDF aux côtés du chinois CGN. Cela devrait permettre selon EDF de réduire les risques et les coûts pour cette nouvelle centrale.

Hinkley Point C a été validé par le gouvernement britannique en 2016 et est la seule centrale nucléaire en cours de construction dans le pays.

Mais le projet a subi des dépassements de budget si bien que EDF a revu en 2019 en hausse son coût, estimé désormais entre 21,5 et 22,5 milliards de livres.

Censée être livrée à partir de la fin 2025, bien qu’ EDF ait prévenu d’un risque de retard, cette centrale doit fournir 7% des besoins en électricité britanniques.

Ces différents projets doivent prendre le relais des centrales nucléaires construites au XXe siècle qui ont fermé ou sont sur le point d’arriver en fin de vie.

Ils sont en outre cruciaux pour EDF qui a connu des déboires avec ses réacteurs de troisième génération EPR, notamment à Flamanville.

Le projet de Sizewell rencontre l’opposition des associations écologistes.

Le mouvement Stop Sizewell C estime qu’il est trop coûteux, se fait au détriment de l’investissement dans les énergies vertes et va avoir un impact sur le tourisme et la nature dans la région.

Pour l’ONG Greenpeace, “le soutien en faveur du nucléaire est difficile à expliquer compte tenu des alternatives moins chères, plus sûres, plus rapides et bien plus populaires qui sont privilégiées dans la plupart du reste du monde”.

EDF ignores appeals and submits Sizewell C application despite coronavirus lockdown

Campaigners say Sizewell C is the “wrong project at the wrong time in the wrong place” and EDF’s justification for pushing ahead is seriously flawed 

[SUFFOLK] Campaigners have slammed EDF for applying tomorrow for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to build Sizewell C while the country remains under coronavirus restrictions that will disadvantage the public and likely last for most of the rest of the year. EDF is proceeding in defiance of appeals from residents, communities and influencers [1] who fear that public engagement will be seriously compromised under social distancing. 

EDF is pushing ahead into a storm of controversy over China’s involvement [2] and questions about nuclear power’s role and flexibility, with Sizewell B currently running at 50% capacity. [3] EDF is attempting to justify its submission by citing the UK’s net zero target and claiming that construction is key to the UK’s post-covid economic recovery. [4] However EDF is dependent on government approval – as yet withheld – of a “regulated asset base” model to pay for Sizewell C. [5] With the economy faltering, energy projects will need more than ever to deliver value for money, not impose a nuclear tax on consumers. 

“EDF has ridden roughshod over the lockdown” said Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C. “With restrictions set to last many months there cannot be full public participation in the planning process – even the Planning Inspectorate does not yet know how it could work. And when we finally emerge from this crisis, will our cash-strapped government support a costly behemoth and a company with such a poor construction record, and poor choice of partner as EDF? Sizewell C would be an expensive bridge to nowhere: it will suck vital funds away from the technologies and projects that are more capable of truly transforming our energy landscape.”

Stop Sizewell C’s Paul Collins said: “EDF is cynically pushing on because the case for Sizewell C is weakening daily. For EDF to say it will boost economic recovery when the project is far from shovel-ready – with neither planning consent nor the means to finance it – is astonishing. It will be at least 15 years before Sizewell C is carbon neutral, and the unsuitability and sensitivity of the site makes any argument in favour of construction as a means of economic recovery frankly insulting. With unprecedented concerns from the Environment Agency and Natural England [6] and with 300 unresolved issues with statutory consultees, [7] Sizewell C is simply the wrong project in the wrong place.”

Charles Macdowell said: “Over the last eight years, EDF has totally failed to address the very reasonable concerns of local people about this huge project. It can’t get the 10m tonnes of materials it needs here other than mainly by road, it can’t employ enough local people to benefit the area, and it will devastate tourism, businesses and everyday life in this quiet rural area. The timing of EDF’s application could not be more inappropriate; the company must surely be aware of the irony of applying to build two new nuclear reactors whilst being paid to turn off one it already has.”

Notes

  1. 60 influencers wrote to the BEIS Secretary of State Alok Sharma on 31 March. Their letter was published in The Times on 28 April. For full text see – https://stopsizewellc.org/influencers-beis-31march2020/. On the same day 53 east Suffolk Town and Parish Councils wrote to EDF: https://stopsizewellc.org/campaigners-urge-no-new-action-on-sizewell-c-until-virus-crisis-over/
  2. See The Sunday Times 24 May https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-great-china-dilemma-6rdmhw3wl. The Prime Minister has ordered a review on how to restrict inward Chinese investment. See https://www.ft.com/content/e2730a94-5307-4e2b-b5f5-3dcf775bb930
  3. National Grid is currently paying EDF to run Sizewell B at half power for 6 weeks whilst energy demand is low. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/big-is-not-so-beautiful-in-grid-talks-to-power-down-8w0qxbtgg. Employees have privately admitted they are concerned it could be asked to turn off altogether.
  4. In a letter to 54 Town and Parish Councils who had written to ask EDF to delay, the company said: “The Government regards construction as key to our economic recovery and we have enclosed a copy of a letter from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for your reference. We want to play our part in the recovery of Suffolk’s economy at the end of this crisis.” https://stopsizewellc.org/core/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/EDF-DCO-submission-Letter-to-Parishes-03.04.20.pdf
  5. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51733117
  6. Serious concerns were expressed by DEFRA agencies to the Planning Inspectorate on 20 January. See https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/sizewell-c-new-nuclear-power-station/?ipcsection=advice&ipcadvice=56199ac81e
  7. Outstanding issues with Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council as at Stage 3 consultations.

Final plans for Sizewell C nuclear power plant could be submitted this week

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/sizewell-c-dco-submission-wednesday-may-27-1-6668608

EDF Energy could be set this week to submit its final plans for a new £14billion nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast to the Government – despite widespread anger over the timing of the application.

Community leaders across east Suffolk, along with many influential organisations and a host of celebrities have demanded that the power giant puts its plans for the new Sizewell C twin reactor on hold until after the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted.

They fear that current bans on public meetings and people getting together even in small groups, plus the continued closure of libraries, will prevent many from seeing the full plans, debating them and giving their views.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter has written to Government ministers urging them to reject the planning application, known as the Development Consent Order, until after the Covid-19 crisis.

News that the application is about to be made has left them deeply disappointed and saying it is the most inappropriate time to do so.

According to The Sunday Times, EDF is to make its DCO submission on Wednesday.

The company had originally intended to submit the application to the Planning Inspectorate by the end of March.

Because of the pandemic it delayed the DCO but said this would only be for “a few weeks” and indicated that it still intended to submit the order before the end of lockdown and was talking to the inspectorate about extending the timeframe for people to comment.

The company said: “To that end we are discussing the following proposals with the Planning Inspectorate: extending the period for relevant representations during the pre-examination phase, introducing measures to make sure everybody is aware of the application when it is submitted, agreeing with the Planning Inspectorate that the examination process itself will not start until they are happy that no parties are disadvantaged.”

It says once submitted it will be at least 28 days before anything further happens while the Planning Inspectorate staff go through the huge number of documents to ensure the DCO can be accepted and registered. If submitted on Wednesday, this would mean it would be June 25 at the earliest when details of the final plans would be revealed and people could begin to read the documents.

Alison Downes, of Stop Sizewell C, said: “EDF could hardly have chosen a more inappropriate time to submit its Sizewell C application, with continuing coronavirus restrictions that threaten to disadvantage us all and controversy raging about China’s involvement.

“And even EDF must be painfully aware of the irony of applying for permission to build two new reactors whilst it is being paid to partly turn off one it already has.”

Sizewell B currently has one of its turbines powered down – halving its output – as part of a deal with the National Grid to reduce the amount of electricity generated because there has been a 20% drop in energy use caused by Covid-19. While domestic use has obviously increased with people confined to home, the amount of power used by industry has dropped dramatically.

The National Grid Electricity System Operator, which contols supply and demand, has offered fixed-term contracts with power generators to “compensate” the industry for agreeing to reduce their output.

In a letter to local councils, Dr Poulter said EDF’s Sizewell C consultation was “unacceptable” and he did not believe this was a good time to progress the project.

He said: “Something of this magnitude needs proper consideration and scrutiny. I have therefore written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to request that the consent order for the next phase of the Sizewell project should not be considered during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A group of 56 town and parish councils have also spoken out against the submission of the DCO during lockdown as part of a campaign coordinated by the Anglian Energy Planning Alliance and Stop Sizewell C.

Tim Beach, of Snape Parish Council, said: “We still maintain that EDF would be wrong to submit its Sizewell C application at the moment. We are disappointed and surprised by Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council saying they are ‘supportive’ of EDF doing so, when many communities are working flat out to support the local government response to the pandemic. The caution the Prime Minister used in his public address tells us that our communities will be facing restrictions for many many months to come.”

Stephen Brett, chair of Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council. said: “There is a real sense of solidarity among towns and parishes in east Suffolk, and a shared determination to defend the principle that everyone must be able to fully engage in scrutinising the Sizewell C application when it comes. The county and district councils must stand firm and we hope this overwhelming support strengthens their ability to do so.”

An EDF Energy spokeswoman said: “We anticipate submitting the planning application for Sizewell C soon following a pause due to the coronavirus.

“We will confirm as soon as the planning application is submitted.

“It is important to note that public engagement in the process will not begin until the planning inspectorate accepts the application which takes around a month.

“Sizewell C will deliver a major boost in skills, training, jobs and business contracts to Suffolk and across the UK and will be vital for reaching our Net Zero carbon emissions target.”

The great China dilemma, Sunday Times 24 May 2020

Caught between two superpowers, Britain faces difficult decisions on everything from nuclear power to medicine.

John Collingridge, The Sunday Times. Read online

On the picturesque Suffolk coast, a battle is intensifying that will help define Britain’s relationship with China. In one corner is a group of celebrities and locals, including the Love Actually actor Bill Nighy, and Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams brewery in Southwold. In the other are two nuclear power giants, Electricité de France (EDF) and China General Nuclear (CGN). China and France want to build Sizewell C, a nuclear power station capable of supplying 7% of the UK’s electricity.

The Stop Sizewell C campaigners share one concern with some politicians, notably the hard right of the Conservative Party: why is Britain relying on China to supply its electricity? “China is adept at cyber-attacks,” said Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C. “I would doubt whether there could be a 100% cast-iron guarantee that operating systems were immune to that. Even if you set aside security concerns, you’ve got real vulnerabilities with a government that is prepared to use economic sanctions.”

Sizewell is just a part of the communist state’s Belt and Road initiative to dominate the world with cash, technology and influence. It plans to use the UK as a showcase for its nuclear technology, with state-owned CGN providing 20% of the funds for Sizewell. China is also helping bankroll the delayed and over-budget Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset.

However, the bigger prize lies on the Essex coast at Bradwell. There, 40 miles east of London, CGN wants to install its homegrown HPR1000 nuclear reactors. CGN will be the two-thirds owner of the Bradwell plant, EDF the junior partner. EDF and CGN claim that the power stations will be impervious to cyber attack.

China’s ambition and its multibillion- pound investments — Hinkley alone will cost up to £22.5bn — are starting to look questionable.

Read online

56 Towns and Parishes write to Council Leaders

[11 May 2020] 56* Town and Parish Councils have today written to Matthew Hicks and Steve Gallant, the leaders of Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council respectively, reiterating their disappointment that the leaders say they are “supportive” of EDF submitting its application for a Development Consent Order for Sizewell C, but urging them to strongly hold the line that it would not be appropriate to start public (Section 56) consultations whilst coronavirus restrictions remain in place. This follow up letter was coordinated by the Anglian Energy Planning Alliance and Stop Sizewell C.
Tim Beach, chair of Snape Parish Council said: “We still maintain that EDF would be wrong to submit its Sizewell C application at the moment. We are disappointed and surprised by Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council saying they are “supportive” of EDF doing so, when many communities are working flat out to support the local government response to the pandemic. The caution the Prime Minister used in his public address last night tells us that our communities will be facing restrictions for many many months to come.”
Stephen Brett, chair of Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council said: “The support we have had for this letter is amazing. There is a real sense of solidarity among towns and parishes in east Suffolk, and a shared determination to defend the principle that everyone must be able to fully engage in scrutinising the Sizewell C application when it comes. The County and District Councils must stand firm and we hope this overwhelming support strengthens their ability to do so.”
Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C added: “We are grateful to each and every Town and Parish that signed this letter or wrote their own, and to the many that tried but found it challenging to make a decision whilst their face to face meetings are wholly suspended. This highlights just how difficult it will be for them – many of them statutory consultees – to deal with EDF’s application, so we are depending on the County and District Councils to be extremely robust in defending the right of all of us to have our say.”
* In addition to the 56 that signed, Framlingham Town Council and Great Bealings Parish Council sent individual letters of concern to the two leaders. 56 Town and Parish Councils – Letter to SCC ESCMay 2020

Letter to EDF France Board 5 May 2020

Stop Sizewell C has written to Jean Bernard Lévy and the Board of EDF ahead of its Annual Shareholders’ Meeting this Thursday, 7 May 2020. Its UK operation, EDF Energy, is expected to submit its Development Consent Order (DCO) application for Sizewell C any day.
The letter urges the Board – given the scale of challenges closer to home – to walk away from the risky Sizewell C project, which there is as yet no means of paying for, in order to focus on the company’s more profitable renewables business and the life extension of the French reactor fleet.
 
Click to read the letter in English and in French, and EDF’s reply

Celebrities and leading business people ask government to stop Sizewell C consent bid

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/celebrities-sizewell-c-letter-dco-delay-alok-sharma-1-6626984

Sixty leading business people, artists and well-known public figures have today written to the government asking for action to delay the application to build Sizewell C until after the coronavirus crisis is over.

Actors Bill Nighy, Helen Atkinson Wood and Diana Quick, broadcasters Bill Turnbull and Libby Purves, artist Maggi Hambling, and film director Paul Greengrass were among those who added their signatures to a letter to Business Secretary Alok Sharma.

Other leading figures included Dr Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams, Hopkins Homes executive chairman James Hopkins, restaurateur and hotelier Ruth Watson, Lady Caroline Cranbrook, Lord Marlesford, the Duke of Grafton, and several former MPs including Ben Gummer.

The Stop Sizewell C campaign co-ordinated the letter from the group of influencers – calling for the government to delay EDF Energy’s Development Consent Order (DCO) until after lockdown.

The group also highlighted their opposition to the project for a new £14billion twin nuclear reactor on the Suffolk coast, citing the harm it would do to tourism and other businesses, the landscape and wildlife in an area “prized for its beauty, tranquility and dark, star-filled, skies”.

Actor Bill Nighy, who used to live at Theberton and Eastbridge, said: “It is beyond belief that EDF is pressing forward during these terrible and uncertain times with a project so misguided, and which even the government’s own advisers find deeply concerning.

“If Sizewell C is allowed to go ahead, we will be left with an outdated form of energy that will not fit to any degree in our new world, and this internationally famous environment will be desecrated.

“This is a time to protect our ecosystems, not shatter them. It is also a time, I think everyone will agree, to finally listen to science rather than big business. If these times have nothing to recommend them, let us hope at least that our experience will inform our future in a positive way and allow us to avoid the blunders of the past.”

Andy Wood, CEO of Adnams, which employs at least 800 people through its brewery, hotels and 50 pubs, said Sizewell C would “significantly impact” his business.

He said: “I signed this letter because it has become increasingly evident to me that if there were not already two nuclear power stations at Sizewell, no-one would consider building something the size of Sizewell C here. Suffolk is poorly equipped to facilitate EDF’s delivery of this major project, lacking transport infrastructure and a significant local workforce with relevant skills.”

Former Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “When I was a Suffolk MP, EDF were at pains to say how they listened to the community, and acted. Submitting a Development Consent Order for Sizewell C – which will have significant local and national impacts – during this coronavirus crisis is not in keeping with that pledge.

“Our councils and government need to focus on keeping essential services running, and for local people – many of whom are very anxious about Sizewell C and would wish to be fully engaged – dealing with the DCO at a time when they are scared for themselves or vulnerable relatives, are dealing with sickness or even bereavement, or may have lost their jobs and have financial worries, will be extremely difficult and potentially an intolerable additional burden.”

A spokesman for EDF Energy said: “EDF announced a delay to the Sizewell C planning application on March 26 because of the coronavirus. We understand the need for all interested parties to participate in the examination of our planning application, and fully encourage them to do so. The Suffolk local authorities stated in a letter on 9 April (issued with a press release): ‘… we are supportive of you (EDF) submitting your application for the Development Consent Order (DCO) in the next few weeks and commencing the initial 28-day period for PINS to assess whether to accept your application’.

“It is important to stress that the examination stage of the planning application process is unlikely to commence for approximately 5-6 months.

“Two stages have to happen first – the Planning Inspectorate has to undertake a 28-day internal assessment. It then runs a pre-examination phase when people are encouraged to read the proposals online or in leaflets EDF will distribute. This lasts at least a further 28 days, but EDF will ask the Planning Inspectorate to extend it to provide more time than usual. Only after this will the Planning inspectorate begin an examination phase to seek feedback from consultees.

“Sizewell C will provide a much needed boost to skills, training and well paid employment. 64% of the construction cost for Hinkley Point C is being spent with UK companies and Sizewell C will further extend this investment being made in Britain. It is widely recognised by Trade Unions and the Chamber of Commerce that the project will help the UK’s economic recovery in the coming months.

“Sizewell was identified by Government as a strategically suitable site for a new nuclear power station following decades of low carbon generation on the Suffolk coast.

“The station will take approximately 10 years to build with about 3-4 years of peak construction activity. Our proposals have been shaped by the feedback from local residents leading to significant changes since we started consultation in 2012, such as a reduction in the size of the accommodation campus and additional land for ecology.”

Bill Nighy joins campaign to stop new Sizewell nuclear power station

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bill-nighy-joins-campaign-to-stop-new-sizewell-nuclear-power-station-dtvvd95qq

Bill Nighy joins campaign to stop new Sizewell nuclear power station
Ben Webster, Environment Editor
Tuesday April 28 2020, 12.01am, The Times

Bill Nighy is among those opposing the proposed nuclear reactors at Sizewell in Suffolk

Celebrities and business leaders have joined forces to try to block plans for a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast.

Bill Nighy and David Morrissey, the actors, Maggi Hambling, the painter, and Jon Hunt, the billionaire founder of Foxtons estate agents, say that the site for the proposed twin nuclear reactors at Sizewell is “totally unsuitable” because it is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will damage a nature reserve and is on an unstable coast vulnerable to sea level rise.

They are among 60 prominent people who live in the area or have connections to it who are calling on the government to step in to delay consideration of the proposal until the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

EDF, the French state controlled company planning to build the reactors with Chinese partner CGN, is preparing to submit a planning application within weeks and wants to start construction in 2022.

In a letter to The Times, the group of 60 opponents says that the planning process would be compromised because the current crisis means officials and residents would be unable to scrutinise it properly.

They also argue that the investment in Sizewell C, which could provide seven per cent of the UK’s electricity, would “suck valuable financial resources” from other less risky forms of low-carbon power, such as wind and solar.

Stop Sizewell C, the group which coordinated the letter, said that up to 600 lorries a day would run through small villages during construction and a temporary town would be created to accommodate 2,400 workers.

Mr Nighy, who used to live in Theberton with his former partner actress Diana Quick, said: “It is beyond belief that EDF is pressing forward during these terrible and uncertain times with a project so misguided, and which even the government’s own advisers find deeply concerning.

“If Sizewell C is allowed to go ahead, we will be left with an outdated form of energy that will not fit to any degree in our new world, and this internationally famous environment will be desecrated. This is a time to protect our ecosystems, not shatter them.”

Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams brewery in Southwold, Suffolk, who signed the letters, said: “If there were not already two nuclear power stations at Sizewell, no-one would consider building something the size of Sizewell C here.

“Suffolk is poorly equipped to facilitate EDF’s delivery of this major project, lacking transport infrastructure and a significant local workforce with relevant skills. Thousands of workers from outside the region will have to be accommodated in a rural area, which – coupled with traffic congestion – will significantly impact my business and others in an area prized for its beauty, tranquility and dark skies.”

EDF and CGN are building the £22 billion Hinkley Point C in Somerset, the first new nuclear power station for a generation which has been repeatedly delayed.

EDF has proposed an alternative funding model for Sizewell C under which consumers would share the risk of cost overruns and delays by paying for the project while it is still under construction.

EDF said that the alternative funding model could make nuclear power comparative in cost to offshore wind

It added that the examination stage of the application process, when feedback will be sought, was unlikely to start for 5-6 months.

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