EDF has this morning submitted an application to build the new Sizewell C nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast to the Planning Inspectorate.
The plant, which the French firm is developing in partnership with China’s state-owned nuclear company CGN, will be a near replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset.
Upon completion, the power station is expected to supply energy to around 6m homes in the east of England, and will employ 900 people.
During the construction phase, the project will create 25,000 job opportunities as well as 1,000 apprenticeships.
Over the course of its lifetime, the power station is expected to contribute £4bn to the region’s economy.
John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said that the county’s business community was “very supportive” of the project:
“Sizewell C is a huge opportunity for Suffolk companies from all sectors and we are working
hard through the Sizewell C supply chain portal to make sure they reap the benefits. The
By copying the Hinkley Point model, it is hoped that the project will be 20 per cent cheaper than its predecessor, which is expected to cost up to £22.5bn.
The application process is expected to take about 18 months to complete, with the government to have the final say on whether the project will go ahead.
If it is approved, EDF say that it will take roughly a decade to build the power station.
However, the process is unlikely to be without challenge, with certain stakeholders already voicing their concerns over the project.
The Stop Sizewell C campaign group has hit out at the project’s developers for “riding roughshod” over the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, claiming local residents will not be able to participate fully in the planning process.
Alison Downes, a spokesperson for the group, said: “With restrictions set to last many months there cannot be full public participation in the planning process – even the Planning Inspectorate does not yet know how it could work”
EDF said that the application had been delayed for two months in light of the coronavirus situation and that extra measures would be put in place to make it easier for local residents to scrutinise the plans once they have been published.
The group has also pointed to the fact that the new project’s predecessor Sizewell B has been running at 50 per cent capacity during the current crisis due to the lack of energy demand as evidence for the inflexible nature of nuclear energy.
The power station is also likely to attract the attention of those currently urging the government to reduce the role of Chinese firms in the UK’s critical national infrastructure.
As with telecoms giant Huawei, which prime minister Boris Johnson is reportedly planning to phase out of the UK’s 5G networks by 2023, CGN is blacklisted in the US over accusations of stealing nuclear secrets.
According to the Financial Times, Johnson has asked officials to draw up plans as to how to reduce Chinese investment in the UK.