Sizewell C threatens the breathtaking wild coast
The proposed nuclear power plant would sabotage the government's 30-by-30 promise to nature.
This week the government announced "Greater Protection for England's Iconic Landscapes" and promised to designate more Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and "protect and restore our natural environment and various ecosystems". It is a time of growing concern about EDF's plans to build a new twin-core reactor on the Suffolk coast – Sizewell C – a development that would cut the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Important Wildlife Designations.
The Suffolk Wildlife Trust believes that if the wildlife decline is so extreme that the government recently pledged to cover 30% of the UK's land by 2030, the proposed development in such a wildlife-rich, fragile place would be catastrophic to British nature protect so that nature can relax. After a decade of assessing the impact, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust believes that Sizewell C should stop working. The development would be devastating for nature.
Christine Luxton, Executive Director of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust says:
“Sizewell C would destroy much of the Suffolk coast in one of the most beautiful natural parts of Britain. People from all over the country visit this part of Suffolk to take in the wilderness. When this enormous development kicks off, an area of the coast the size of 900 soccer fields will be directly affected by the development. Barn owls, water mice and kingfishers will see their habitat destroyed.
Tern, Copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
“Nature is already in great trouble, and the scale of this development will make a bad situation much worse. We will not solve the climate crisis by destroying natural habitats that sequester carbon. This is the wrong time and place for such a colossal and harmful development. "
What would destroy or damage Sizewell C:
- An area the size of approximately 900 football fields – 500 acres – in the middle of the officially designated Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A special protected area, a special protected area and a RAMSAR site would also be affected.
- A huge area with arable land and nationally rare habitats for wildlife such as heather, oak forests, sand dunes, gravel, bog, swamp, reeds and natural grass.
- 10 hectares of Sizewell Marshes, a heavily protected site of special scientific interest, will be lost. This fragile place is home to orchids, otters, dragonflies and bog plants such as peat beans and pimples.
- Birds like barn owls, swamp harrows and kingfisher as well as mammals like water mouse are disturbed and their habitat is destroyed.
- The Trust has particular concerns about the potential impact on nationally rare populations of barbastelle bats and natterjack toads.
- Every year 3 million fish are killed when sucked into the power plant's cooling system – this affects the entire marine ecosystem of the east coast.
For over a decade, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust has invested time and expertise in assessing the extent of potential natural damage. The charity has attended numerous meetings with EDF Energy to discuss ways to mitigate habitat damage and to highlight deep and unresolved concerns about the impact on wildlife.
Christine Luxton continues:
“We don't think it would be possible to offset the damage that Sizewell C would do to nature on this exceptionally beautiful stretch of coast.
“We are deeply concerned that the proposed mitigation and compensation would never compensate for the enormous loss of biodiversity and the impact on our protected areas and species. While offsetting sites can be critical in offsetting habitat destruction, they cannot replace the higher value of long-established sites with a rich species mosaic.
"In a time of climate and ecological emergency, we have to find really sustainable solutions that do not exacerbate the problem by destroying wild places that are important internationally and nationally for nature."
The proposed development is adjacent to RSPB Minsmere – a world-famous nature reserve with 6,000 species that would be severely affected if the development were given the green light.
Less than 10% of the UK is protected by Designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for nature. Sizewell C would destroy part of an important SSSI, making it even harder for the government to fulfill its commitment to protect 30% of the land for nature by 2030.