Sizewell C Update: September 2020

Sizewell nuclear power stations (photo: Sarah Groves)

Our Head of Conservation, Ben McFarland, is currently sifting through the many thousands of pages of the Development Consent Order application. We will focus our effort where the risk to Suffolk's wildlife is the greatest.

Ben McFarland explains:

Our main area of focus includes the direct and indirect damage caused to the nationally important fen habitat within Sizewell Belts Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). We believe well over 10 hectares of SSSI will be lost, directly covered by concrete. This is at least ten football pitches in size; a shocking amount. Not only that, but we also believe there is a high degree of risk that the rest of the SSSI will be adversely affected by changes in groundwater and surface water, both through changes in levels and water chemistry. We also remain to be convinced that this habitat can be fully compensated for and EDF will need to come up with a remarkable plan if we are not going to end up with net loss of biodiversity as a result. Changes in water levels and chemistry in such a complex hydrological system are incredibly hard to predict and so we will be expecting EDF’s monitoring plans to be very robust. We are working closely with Friends of the Earth as well as external experts who will make an informed and independent judgement, so we can bring together an informed response based on the evidence available.

Ben McFarland at Sizewell C

Ben McFarland, Head of Conservation, at Sizewell nuclear power stations (photograph: Sarah Groves)

For species, we are really concerned about the impacts on nationally important bat populations, especially barbastelle. We believe it will be incredibly hard for EDF to be able to mitigate the impact of such a large construction site, cutting right across land the bats use to forage from Sizewell estate to Minsmere. We are working closely with East Suffolk District Council on this topic and have commissioned national bat experts to independently review EDF’s plans.

The third main area of concern relates to impacts on the incredibly rare natterjack toad population. We are working closely with experts from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust to help us understand if the impacts are significant and what can be done to avoid them.

We are also working closely with colleagues in other organisations to help them focus their efforts and expertise, such as the RSPB, who are looking in detail at impacts on many bird species, including Minsmere’s breeding marsh harriers. This enables us all to make the best use of the resources we have available.

There are many other areas of concern of course, and whilst we will invariably raise these in our response, we feel it best to focus most effort on the most significant impacts in the national context.

How can you help?

The public consultation process has passed and so, unless you plan to submit Relevant Representations directly to the Planning Inspectorate, the best way you can help is to continue to support us through your membership. This helps to support staff time and helps us to fund the commission of experts to help us in reviewing the evidence.