Britain gives go-ahead to Sizewell C nuclear power plant

Two-reactor power station is meant to supply six million homes and help achieve net zero emissions

Sizewell C -  Aerial View
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The UK government on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to a major new nuclear power station, Sizewell C, which it said will provide electricity to six million homes and move Britain closer to achieving its low-carbon goals.

The £20 billion ($24bn) project led by French energy giant EDF will see two new reactors built at England's eastern tip, close to the site of the operational Sizewell B plant and the decommissioned Sizewell A.

A planning review that considered everything from carbon emissions to road traffic and the welfare of local bats ended with an order by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng that the new nuclear plant should be approved.

"It is a big endorsement of our proposals and supports our view that this is the right project in the right place," said the project's chief planning officer Carly Vince.

“Sizewell C will be good for the region, creating thousands of opportunities for local people and businesses. It will boost local biodiversity and leave a legacy Suffolk can be proud of.”

The project's financing director Julia Pyke said the decision was good news for bill-payers because energy costs would be lower with nuclear in the mix. Negotiations with the government on raising funds for the project are continuing.

“Sizewell C will give a big boost to jobs and skills in nuclear supply chain companies across the country. It will strengthen the UK’s energy security and play a key role in our fight against climate change," she said.

A campaign group called Stop Sizewell C said it would continue to lobby against what it called the "wrong decision" because of the large costs and environmental impact.

Another group opposed to the project is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, whose chief executive Beccy Speight said the charity was "extremely disappointed".

She said the go-ahead for Sizewell C was a "ludicrous decision" for an interim government to make, as candidates spar over energy issues in the race to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Nuclear power divides European countries between those who hail its low-carbon reliability and others who see the environmental hazards as too great.

The continent-wide scramble for energy after Russia started reducing gas supplies has reignited the debate, with the British government coming down on the side of building more nuclear in the race to be a net zero emitter by 2050.

Charlotte Childs, a union representative for engineering workers, said: “The UK’s nuclear programme has been delayed too many times due to political decisions. We need further investment in nuclear to secure good jobs for the future.

“This project is essential for jobs and skills and hitting our environmental targets. It is clear – there can be no net zero without new nuclear.”

Updated: July 20, 2022, 1:17 PM