An update on Sizewell C

Sizewell nuclear power stations (photo: Sarah Groves)

Ben McFarland, Head of Conservation, explains how EDF has submitted its planning documents to the inspectorate and outlines Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s chief areas of concern.

*Update, Weds 24 June 2020: We have heard today that the Planning Inspectorate has made the decision to accept EDF's Sizewell C Development Consent Order application for review. We do not believe that this development should go ahead as its negative impacts on wildlife are just too great. We will continue to do all we can to obtain the best result for Suffolk's wildlife throughout the process.

 

EDF has recently submitted its application for Sizewell C to the Planning Inspectorate and we will shortly be able to consider the application in full. There will be many thousands of pages to sift through and hence, while we will provide comments on the potential wildlife impacts on a wide range of issues that we are expecting, invariably we will need to focus our effort where the risk to wildlife is the greatest.

Ben McFarland at Sizewell C

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

Our main areas of focus will include the 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. In our response we will robustly question whether the loss of such habitat can be justified. We believe it cannot and there are other solutions that would significantly reduce this loss. 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 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, to be able to respond as soon as possible, if impacts do occur.

For species, one of our main areas of concern is the short, medium and long-term impacts on nationally important bat populations, especially the barbastelle. We believe it will be incredibly hard, if not impossible, 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.

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

Of course, we still don’t know precisely what EDF’s proposals will look like but if we find them unacceptable and the impacts on key wildlife habitats and species cannot be avoided, mitigated or compensated, then we will strongly object and we will do everything we can to protect our wildlife.  

Find out more:

Sizewell C proposals: Our concerns:

www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/proposed-sizewell-c-nuclear-power-station

Our stage 4 response:

www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/sites/default/files/2019-09/SZC%20Stage%20…

Further historical details:

www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/sizewell-nuclear-power-station-previous-co…