Planning Inspectorate approves Sizewell C changes aimed at reducing environmental impact

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has approved 15 design changes to the Sizewell C nuclear power station aimed at reducing the scheme’s environmental impacts.

EDF Energy and its partner China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) want to develop the Sizewell C site in Suffolk – a nationally significant infrastructure project – and submitted plans to PINS last May. The secretary of state is due to decide on the 3.2 gigawatt dual EPR reactor project this year, with the scheme expected to open in the early 2030s.

Campaigners are worried that the reactor will negatively impact the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which borders the site.

In a submission to PINS last year, local MP, former environment minister and current secretary of state for work and pensions Thérèse Coffey also called for significant changes to Sizewell C, while backing the overall plan.

The changes proposed by EDF include providing “additional fen meadow habitat” at Pakenham to compensate for fen meadow loss arising from the scheme. The submitted revisions will also provide improved access at the Benhall, Halesworth and Westleton habitat sites for visitors. 

To reduce lorry journeys, the developers want to increase the frequency of freight train movements and bulk material imports by sea with a change to the beach landing facility.

New flood mitigation measures to lower flood risk have been added as well as changes to a crossing structure over the SSSI to introduce flood relief culverts.

There are also revisions to the number of trees to be retained on the main development site as plans for a proposed car park are also being scrapped, subject to the developers having “greater flexibility” for certain facilities to be built.

In a letter, PINS said that, while the proposed changes "represent material changes to the original application", they are "not so material" to require a new application and "the development now being proposed is in substance that which was originally applied for".

A Sizewell C spokesperson said: “The changes to our plans for Sizewell C will reduce the impact of the project on traffic, wildlife and local communities. We are pleased the Planning Inspectorate has accepted the changes and that they will now be examined as part of our development consent order application.”

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