Battle to defeat ‘pure might’ of developer will be ‘uphill struggle’, Sizewell C opponents warned
Read Online – Diehard opponents to plans to build a nuclear power station on Suffolk’s coast have been told they face an “uphill struggle” against the “pure might” of developers to defeat the plans.
The stark warning came from the chairman of a group which unsuccessfully opposed a similar plan by EDF Energy in Somerset, after he travelled eight hours to tell people what life could be like if the proposed Sizewell C is built.
Richard Cuttell, chairman of the West Hinkley Action Group, told a public meeting that people could face “noise pollution, traffic disruption and the deterioration and destruction of roads” if EDF Energy’s vision to build the plant next to its A and B stations is approved.
The firm believes the plan, which is currently going through its fourth round of consultation, is crucial to meeting the country’s future energy needs.
It says that while it recognises people’s concerns over the impact on roads infrastructure and the environment – particularly sites of scientific special interest (SSSIs) at Minsmere – it has put in place plans for relief roads and wetland habitats to mitigate the effects.
EDF Energy also points to the huge job opportunities Sizewell C could open up, both in construction and the longer-term.
Asked at the meeting on Saturday what opponents needed to do defeat EDF Energy’s plans, Mr Cuttell’s advice was to “question everything and keep fighting”, adding: “You need to put in as much effort as is humanly possible.”
Speaking to this newspaper, Mr Cuttell also said opponents are “going to have to realise the complexity of the process”.
He said campaigners would benefit from strong specialist knowledge and legal representation to make sure their views are heard.
However he said: “I think it’s an uphill struggle because of the pure might of EDF, its public relations team and its financial backing.
“They will throw everything at the process to ensure permission is given.”
The difference between Hinkley Point and Sizewell, he said, is that Suffolk has many more SSSIs which could be affected by the plans.
Television presenter Bill Turnbull, who chaired the public meeting at St Peter’s Church in Theberton, said Mr Cuttell’s assessment of what life is like living near to a major nuclear power station “made me feel pretty sick”.
But he told this newspaper: “I still think there’s a chance we can stop it.
“It comes down to the government at the time and money – and it comes down to the amount of noise we can make and the awareness we can raise nationally.
“Even if I thought there was no chance, I’d still be here.
“We carry on until the last day because we love this place.”
An EDF Energy spokesman said: “We encourage local people to continue to meet with us, to share their views and take part in the consultation for a new power station in Suffolk.
“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.”
Read online – Groans could be heard from opponents to a planned nuclear power station on a Suffolk coast as they were given “pretty bleak” warnings of how it could change their lives.
‘Pretty bleak’: Packed public meeting warned of ‘devastating’ effects of Sizewell C nuclear power station
Residents gathered outside at the public meeting held at St Peter’s Church, Theberton over Sizewell C. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH
EDF Energy wants to build the large new Sizewell C power plant next to its current Sizewell A and B stations, saying it is crucial to catering for the country’s future energy needs.
It is currently running its fourth round of consultation on the move, saying it has extensively encouraged people to have their say.
But the plans have long been controversial, with a public meeting chaired by TV presenter Bill Turnbull held on Saturday, September 14 to give neighbours a chance to hear what life might be like if Sizewell C is built.
Television presenter Bill Turnbull chairs the public meeting held at St Peter’s Church. Theberton over Sizewell C. Picture: DAVE ROBB
Richard Cuttell, chairman of the West Hinkley Action Group – which unsuccessfully opposed a similar power plant in the West Country – travelled for more than eight hours to warn them they could face “noise pollution, traffic congestion and deterioration and destruction of roads”.
An EDF Energy spokesman said: “We understand that how our workers travel to site and how we move freight is important to local people during construction.”
It added that it would also use rail and a beach landing facility to move freight during construction, and said an accommodation campus for workers would help to keep construction traffic off roads.
It has also proposed a bypass to ensure places like Theberton are not over-run with traffic.
Richard Cuttell speaking at the public meeting held at St Peter’s Church, Theberton over Sizewell C. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH
Protesters against the Sizewell C power stationProtesters against the Sizewell C power station at Suffolk County Council’s headquarters, outside Endeavour House
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But opponents believe that will not nearly be enough to deal with the potential consequences, with Mr Cuttell saying: “They’re going to have noise potentially 24 hours a day.”
Of the traffic disruption, he said: “People will be unable to get to places within a guaranteed time.
“A journey may take 20mins or it may take two hours, because of hundreds of lorries, buses, coaches and other transport now on the roads.”
Mr Turnbull – who lives near to Sizewell – said hearing Mr Cuttell’s presentation during the meeting at St Peter’s Church, Theberton “made me feel pretty sick”.
He added: “The picture he paints of what is happening down at Hinkley is pretty bleak.
“It’s really important for people to realise what’s going to happen and how devastating for people it could be – not just here in Theberton but all over, from Woodbridge up to Southwold.
“Everyone is going to be affected. People need to understand the extent to which their lives are going to change.”
The EDF spokesman added: “We have a long established relationship with Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council and over many years we have listened to and responded to their concerns as elected community representatives.
“This includes proposing a bypass of the village of Theberton and significantly reducing the land required and the height of the buildings for the temporary accommodation campus.
“We encourage local people to continue to meet with us, to share their views and take part in the consultation for a new power station in Suffolk.
“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.”
‘It made me feel pretty sick’ – TV’s Bill Turnbull on hearing potential impacts of Sizewell C nuclear power station
Read online TV presenter Bill Turnbull has revealed that hearing about the possible impact of Sizewell C nuclear power station made him “feel pretty sick” – because of the effect on people’s lives and RSPB Minsmere
Richard Cuttell plays a major role in the opposition to Hinkey Point C, EDF nuclear plant project Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH
Angry opponents to the proposed power station were urged to “keep fighting” during a major public meeting chaired by the celebrity at St Peter’s Church, Theberton, near Saxmundham, on Saturday.
EDF Energy says a new plant next to its existing Sizewell B and A stations is critical to meeting the country’s energy needs.
“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.
“We encourage local people to continue to meet with us, to share their views and take part in the consultation for a new power station in Suffolk.”
But the plans have caused fury from those living nearby, fearful of the impact on nearby roads and the effect on the Minsmere nature reserve nearby.
The meeting was called so neighbours could hear from Richard Cuttell – a key opponent to a similar nuclear power station built at Hinkley Point.
He told those gathered that the power station would have a negative effect on their lives, with noise from the construction of the site – which would take several years – and traffic woes.
“People are going to have noise potentially 24 hours a day,” he said.
His message to people was “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.”
Bill Turnbull to chair meeting on what life will be like on Sizewell C frontline
People will find out about the realities of living next door to a nuclear power station construction site tomorrow at a public meeting over Sizewell C.
Read online – Broadcaster Bill Turnbull will chair the event to discuss EDF Energy’s latest proposals for the twin reactor in the frontline community of Theberton and Eastbridge.
Special guest will be Hinkley Point C (HPC) campaigner Richard Cuttell who is travelling from Somerset to share his experience as neighbour to EDF’s construction site for the new plant on which Sizewell C will be based.
Mr Cuttell, chairman of the West Hinkley Action Group, lives in Shurton, close to the fenceline of HPC. He will bring his experience of dealing with EDF during the project, and that of local councillors he works closely with, describing how residents of the Parish of Stogursey – which contains the hamlets of Shurton and Burton and is similar to Theberton and Eastbridge – have been impacted by the build.
The meeting will begin with a presentation by Mr Cuttell including talking through public consultations, the Development Consent Application and life next to the construction site.
Bill Turnbull chairing a previous public meeting at Theberton Church. Picture: PAUL GEATER
Following a Q&A session, local campaigners will make short presentations on the key issues and share guidance on how to respond to EDF’s Stage 4 consultations by September 27.
Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council and Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS), with partners B1122 Action Group and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group are organising the meeting from 10am to noon at St Peter’s Church, Theberton.
Previous meetings have seen the church packed to capacity.
With the RSPB’s Love Minsmere Festival following the next day, September 15, local people have the opportunity for a full weekend of campaigning on Sizewell C.
Alison Downes, co chairman of TEAGS, said: “We warmly welcome Richard to Suffolk following our visit to Hinkley Point a year ago. His experience will be invaluable in informing our community what they can expect in being neighbours to Sizewell C, should the project go ahead.”
“Stage 4 is EDF’s last Public consultation. Whilst we were among those requesting extra consultations, it was in the hope EDF would make changes to address the specific concerns of its nearest neighbours as well as more detail to rectify the lamentable level of preliminary environmental information. With EDF having essentially ignored us, we can expect a lively meeting.”
9 September 2019
[Melton] Campaigners are appalled and frustrated that EDF’s application to relocate Sizewell B facilities (application DC/19/1637/FUL) was today approved by East Suffolk Council by only one vote. The decision flies in the face of widespread opposition from Parish and Town Councils NGOs and members of the public to EDF’s plans, which campaigners said should only have been considered as part of a Sizewell C Development Consent Order (DCO) application.
“We strongly oppose East Suffolk Council’s decision to approve this application when the DCO request for Sizewell C has neither been submitted nor approved. If Sizewell C does not go ahead – and there are many reasons why it might not, including uncertain financing and major environmental obstacles – the AONB will have been needlessly damaged.” said Paul Collins of Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell.
The Suffolk Preservation Society, which strongly objected the application and also questions whether the site is big enough to house two reactors, expressed its dismay. Director Fiona Cairns said: “This decision fails the most basic test of planning policy and probity. The wanton removal of a century-old wood is unacceptable in itself. The fact that this destruction might turn out to be unnecessary should Sizewell C not go ahead, shows the planning system in its worst light. You can’t replace 100 year-old trees overnight!”
Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council, supported by a number of other Parish and Town Councils, will now ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to “call in“ the application and consider it for a planning inquiry.  EDF’s proposals to relocate a number of Sizewell B facilities would destroy all of Coronation Wood and up to 50% of Pill Box Field in order to make space for the construction of Sizewell C. Even so, EDF would have only 32 hectares available to accommodate the massive twin reactor project, which at Hinkley Point is occupying 45 hectares.
Stephen Brett, Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council Chair said: “We will now ask the Secretary of State to call this application in, in order to ensure there is proper consideration of how these proposals will damage a nationally designated area which is adjacent to other protected wildlife habitats of both national and international importance.”
A range of statutory consultees and NGOs expressed opposition to EDF’s application, and were supported by around 100 letters and emails of objection from members of the public. East Suffolk Council acknowledged that no letters or emails of support were received. Campaigners consider that EDF should be able to upgrade its facilities without destroying more of the AONB.
EDF aims to submit its DCO application in the first quarter of 2020. Discussing the environmental concerns associated with the construction of Sizewell C, Therese Coffey MP told a Public Meeting on 6 September that her assessment was that “EDF are a very, very long way from being able to get over those environmental hurdles” and that she was “struggling to understand” how EDF can overcome them by March 2020. Saying she supports nuclear power entirely, she acknowledged “we do have to make the judgement, of course, is it worth building here (with the environmental problems)? And, you know, frankly the jury’s out.” 
1. The Call in can be viewed online at http://publicaccessdocuments.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/01508625.pdf
2. Dr Coffey’s remarks were noted contemporaneously and corroborated by comparing more than one source.
Photo courtesy of Allan Warner
Sarah Chambers, EADT 24 July 2019: read online at https://www.eadt.co.uk/business/government-consultation-on-funding-sizewell-c-through-electricity-bill-levy-1-6175685
Government proposals which would leave electricity customers to foot up-front costs for firing up new nuclear power plants like Sizewell C has been blasted by campaigners.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a three-month public consultation on its plans to partly fund new generation nuclear through a Regulated Asset Base (RAB).
RABs involve regulators granting a licence to a company to charge a regulated price to users of the infrastructure.
The new funding model would mean all UK electricity customers would pay to help energy firm EDF to build Sizewell C – a move opposed by residents’ campaign group Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group (TEAGs).
In 2016, the model was applied successfully for the first time to the building of the £4.2bn Thames Tideway Tunnel sewerage project. The business department is also looking at applying it to other firm low carbon technologies, such as transport and storage infrastructure for carbon dioxide.
TEAGS co-chair Alison Downes said: “Having campaigned for many years to get EDF to change its construction plans for Sizewell C, the idea of paying for the privilege of major disruption and the threat of environmental damage to protected sites such as RSPB Minsmere really sticks in our throats.
“Most of EDF’s EPR (third generation pressurised water reactor) projects have over-run and over-spent, so there is a high risk of even more costs being passed on to householders and taxpayers. Our friends at the consumer movement SumOfUs have launched a campaign to send a message of opposition to BEIS and we urge people to sign.”
Jim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director, said alongside a big expansion of renewables, reliable nuclear power was needed to help the UK to switch from polluting fossil fuels and reach net zero emissions.
“Nuclear’s proven technology reduces the difficulties and cost of trying to decarbonise the electricity supply we all use and depend on,” he said.
“Lower costs for financing nuclear will benefit consumers through their bills and today’s consultation shows a way this can happen at Sizewell C in Suffolk.
“As a near replica of Hinkley Point C – Sizewell C will be cheaper to construct and finance. It will benefit from the experience of Hinkley Point C’s engineers, contractors and suppliers and lessons from other nuclear projects, including operational EPR plants.
“It can also repeat the huge boost for industry, jobs and skills already happening due to Hinkley Point C’s construction, which is on schedule.”
The consultation closes on October 14.