Chairman of Together Against Sizewell C, Pete Wilkinson, has described it is a “battle for the soul and integrity of East Suffolk”. Here he explains why he is opposing the nuclear project.
Anyone new to Suffolk, ignorant of EDF’s nuclear plans, would be forgiven for laughing out loud.
An untried reactor, labelled ‘technically complicated to construct’ by its own designers, a cost of £20billion-plus, taking at least 10 years to build, producing waste which is not only lethal to living tissue but which remains so for thousands of years and for which there is no agreed or proven disposal or management route, to be built in the middle of a community of 5,000, which will not produce electricity for at least 10 years by which time its output will be redundant to needs, built on an eroding coast? Yeah, sure: pull the other one.
You really couldn’t make it up.
Yet this is what residents up and down the East Suffolk are facing. They have been led to believe that the destruction of their environment on a massive scale, the compulsory purchases, the roads, the workers’ campuses, the borrow pits, the huge water demand in the driest county is inevitable – and to make the best of it.
When did anyone ask YOU, resident of East Suffolk, if you wanted your tranquil, culturally rich and peaceful rural environment urbanised and anonymised, requiring six new roundabouts on the A12 and up to 1,000 vehicle movements a day along our country roads to ferry the material required for our own white elephantine carbuncle on our heritage coast, light, noise and dust pollution 24 hours a day, seven days a week or a decade of accommodating 4,000 workers? Of course you were not asked. They knew the answer. The new nuclear policy has not been subjected to anything like forensic public or Parliamentary scrutiny.
Democratic deficit runs through all aspects of this programme like the letters in a stick of rock and is presented by its advocates as ‘inevitable’. The National Policy Statement process renders what government calls ‘national infrastructure projects of over-riding importance’ inviolate, untouchable and – yes – inevitable unless the planning authorities have the courage or unless the Secretary of State has the guts to do what they should – throw the EDF plans out as an insult to the people of Suffolk. Sizewell C is important to no-one other than EDF.
But just how ‘over-riding’ is the need for Sizewell C? The French-made film, ‘The Nuclear Trap’ makes it clear that Hinkley C in Somerset and Sizewell C are more critical to the survival of the French nuclear industry than they are to providing electricity to UK consumers.
There has been a huge reduction in electricity demand since 2013 – over 16% – making earlier predictions of an increase of 15% by 2020 an overestimation of more than 30%.
Renewables out-compete nuclear on every front – cost, waste, jobs, CO2 and time for deployment. If ever Sizewell was built, it would be at least a decade, probably more like 15 years given the history of cost and time over-runs of its flagship plant at Flamanville, before it turned one kilowatt hour of electricity.