The government’s long-awaited net zero carbon strategy paper published within weeks of the COP 26 summit in Glasgow once again fails to give the Sizewell C project the sort of definitive support predicted by its French initiators, Électricité de France (EdF). In a statement which has drawn much criticism for being unambitious and unrealistic in its attempt to provide finance for the decarbonisation of the housing sector, the government could not even bring itself to do more than commit £120 million towards the development of nuclear projects through the Future Nuclear Enabling Fund, announcing that ‘There remain a number of optimal sites, including the Wylfa site in Anglesey.’
The only crumb of comfort for the beleaguered nuclear industry is the intention to support ‘one large scale nuclear project by the end of this Parliament’, but even this is conditional on the need to demonstrate ‘value for money’ and the ‘relevant approvals’, the first of which is a condition that is impossible to comply with from a UK consumer perspective and the second of which is subject to planning inspectorate and Secretary of State approval in the case of Sizewell.
Pete Wilkinson, Chairman of Together Against Sizewell C, said today, ‘While the government has not ruled out Sizewell, its omission from the statement today as well as the absence of any funding decision beyond the tiny by comparison £120m future nuclear fund, gives us hope that the government recognises the Sizewell project as one of significant risk, of huge environmental cost and in a place which could not be more unsuited to such a massive development.
‘It will do government well to bear in mind that as the build back from the covid pandemic and the Brexit effect result in shortages and rising bills, the last thing people will be able to stomach is a levy on already rising energy costs in the form of a tax to pay for Sizewell C from which only EdF and the French government will financially benefit over time.
‘The country does not need any nuclear plants and it certainly doesn’t need Sizewell. It needs a government which has the courage and vision to drive down electricity demand through decentralisation of generation, efficiency and a ramping up of the renewables sector rather than fixating on increasing supply.’