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Together Against Sizewell C: the battle to save UK’s Suffolk coast from nuclear development

The nuclear fight for Sizewell on Suffolk’s coast, BBC, 7 July 2019  

Joan Girling has been fighting the nuclear industry most of her adult life.

She was at school when the new Magnox reactor was begun on the Suffolk coast at Sizewell in the 1960s.

Her father told her it was a “necessary evil”.

But when she moved to Leiston, just a few miles from the nuclear power station, and work began on Sizewell B in the 1980s, she could no longer ignore it………

in 1989 the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) proposed a Sizewell C and Joan decided she had to do something.

At a fractious meeting at the Leiston Film Theatre in the High Street opposite the fish and chip shop, she founded Community Against Sizewell C.

Joan and an array of other anti-nuclear groups won that fight. Sizewell C was cancelled. The plan was resurrected in 1993 and Joan helped fight and win that one as a local councillor. But she has no illusions about what swung the argument.

“It was the finances that didn’t work out for them, ” she says resignedly. “Not the environment. It’s always finance that has the final say.” ……..

EDF and Sizewell C

The CEGB is now long gone. Today it is the giant French energy group EDF who wants to build Sizewell C. The protestors now call themselves Together Against Sizewell C (TASC).

In the next few weeks the plans will go to the Planning Inspectorate and then on to Secretary of State. If it is approved Joan expects ten years or more of construction, millions of tonnes of aggregate roaring in by road or rail, spoil heaps and a campus of more than 6,000 workers, on what she calls “my beloved coast.”………

Sizewell and Hinkley would  be a blueprint for a nuclear future.

Joan sighs at the thought: “No, nuclear plant, never, not one, has come in on time and on budget.”

Protected areas

Sizewell is hemmed in with every kind of protected area. Philip Ridley, Head of Planning and Coastal Management at East Suffolk Council, admits: “If you were looking for a place to build a nuclear power station you could not have chosen a more environmentally sensitive spot.”

The whole coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The shingle beach is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Sizewell Marshes, just behind the plant is a Special Protected Area (SPA). The Leiston Sandlings to the south are another SPA. There’s even an ancient monument nearby, Leiston Abbey.

Minsmere

But it is hard to compromise on Minsmere, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and an SSSI. The thousand hectares of marsh, less than a mile to the north, is the pride of the RSPB, where in 1947 the avocet, now the emblem of the charity, started breeding again for the first time in 100 years. It is home to 5,800 plant and animal species, marsh harriers, otters, water voles and bearded tits.

Adam Rowlands, Minsmere senior site manager, says: “For the RSPB, the scale of risk is higher than anything else we have ever been faced with before.

“The proposed footprint extends into the marshes behind the site which is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and we are concerned at the loss of habitat over the ten years of construction due to noise and light and disturbances, and also the effects on the water table.”

At the moment Minsmere’s water levels are delicately controlled by sluices. Mr Rowlands says any unexpected rise or fall of a few centimetres could flood nests and destroy habitats.

It’s not just the fresh water inland but the salt water of the North Sea that worries the RSPB.

It is an unpredictable and mobile coastline. The RSPB fears that higher sea defences and a concrete landing strip for barges could drastically alter the shoreline – and Minsmere.

Consultations

In response EDF has issued lengthy consultation papers. The local Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s response to the latest and most detailed one is littered with references to “inadequate assessment”.

What’s more, there are fears EDF will only release a full assessment immediately before the plans go before the Planning Inspectorate, giving local groups little time to respond…….https://www.bbc.com/news/business-48828820

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July 8, 2019 - Posted by | environment, opposition to nuclear, UK

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