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Nuclear plant will help kick-start post-pandemic economy, says EDF

A planned new nuclear power station will help kick-start the economy following the coronavirus crisis, energy giant EDF has said.

The power supplier has submitted an application to build the Sizewell C plant on the Suffolk coast, which it says will generate enough electricity to power six million homes and bolster the UK’s energy resilience by reducing the need for imports.

EDF also says it will create 25,000 jobs and 1,000 apprenticeships during construction, as well as providing 900 skilled jobs over its lifetime.

The application for development consent to the Planning Inspectorate was delayed for two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But campaigners opposed to the project have criticised the move, arguing that coronavirus social distancing restrictions are likely to continue in the coming months and so limiting public participation in the planning process.

The 3.2-gigawatt Sizewell C will be a near replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset, reducing construction costs and risks, according to EDF, which has partnered with China General Nuclear to build reactors in the UK.

Construction work at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station
Image: The new power station will be a near replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset

Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director of the Sizewell C project, said: “Sizewell C is a net-zero infrastructure project ready to kick-start the economy following the coronavirus crisis.

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“It will offer thousands of high-quality job opportunities and long-term employment for people living in Suffolk and it will strengthen the nuclear supply chain across the country.

“The project will play a key role in lowering emissions while helping the UK keep control of its low carbon future.”

He said the construction of Sizewell C will prevent nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere each year, compared to electricity generated by gas plants.

The planning process is likely to take 18 months to complete and the government will make the final decision on whether to give the green light to the scheme.

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The Stop Sizewell C campaign group which opposes the scheme warns it is costly, diverts investment from other green energy sources such as renewables and would damage tourism and nature in the area.

Alison Downes, of Stop Sizewell C, also criticised the move to submit the application during lockdown.

She 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.

“Sizewell C would be an expensive bridge to nowhere: it will suck vital funds away from the technologies and projects that are more capable of truly transforming our energy landscape.”

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