The government has approved plans to build a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast, despite the Planning Inspectorate’s warnings about its environmental impact.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng granted a development consent order and said the “the very substantial and urgent need” for the Sizewell C project outweighed the potential harms to the local water supply.
The UK government has already committed £100m toward the £20bn EDF scheme and intends to take a 20% stake in the development, which will generate 7% of the UK’s energy needs when complete.
Plans were submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in May 2020, and the body made its report to Kwarteng earlier this year, stating that “unless the outstanding water supply strategy can be resolved”, the case for granting consent was “not made out”.
Nationally significant infrastructure projects such as new nuclear power plants require consent from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the secretary of state twice delayed his decision – most recently this month – in order to review more information.
Campaigners against the scheme said they “will be looking closely at appealing this decision”, citing concerns around the impact on protected species and habitats and on the quality of the water supply.
“The political events of recent weeks prove just how quickly things can change, so we are ready to take this seriously flawed project on,” said a spokesperson for Stop Sizewell C.
The group had called for a final decision on the planned power station to be delayed for a third time, until a new prime minister had been selected.
The two-reactor plant is near identical to the one currently being built by Laing O’Rourke, Bouygues and Balfour Beatty at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Hinkley Point will also be operated by EDF, which is set to be nationalised by the French government.