Campaigners win permission to appeal against Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station ruling

Campaigners win permission to appeal against Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station ruling

Campaigners have won permission for another hearing to challenge the go ahead to build Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station on the issue of a permanent water supply and because of public interest in the development.

Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Coulson says the Together Against Sizewell C Limited (TASC) arguments around the need for a desalination plant on the Suffolk Coast should be looked at again.

He has given TASC permission to appeal against Mr Justice Holgate’s refusal in the High Court of their judicial review of then Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s decision to give development consent to the 3.2 gigawatt power station.

The judge said that, given Mr Kwarteng gave permission for the power station against the advice of the planning Examining Authority, and because of TASC’s range of arguments about the need for a water supply, the appeal had “a real prospect of success”.

He added that a further reason to grant permission to appeal was the scale and public interest surrounding the Sizewell C project.

At the High Court hearing, TASC argued it is clear a desalination plant will be needed to guarantee a permanent water supply of 2.2 million litres per day for Sizewell C. However, the environmental impact of such a plant was not included in the planning application for the nuclear power plant and therefore was neither assessed nor taken into account by the Business Secretary.

TASC said the issue of a water supply should not have been treated as a separate issue to the power plant application which EDF claims will produce electricity for 60 years in the heart of Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Natural Beauty.

On appeal, it is argued that Mr Justice Holgate was wrong to say that NNB Generation Company (SZC) Limited was “unable to identify a permanent supply of potable water” and that water supply connections were “simply unknown”. TASC say the company could at any time have decided to proceed with a desalination plant but, instead, chose to keep open the option of a supply provided by Northumbrian Water Ltd (NWL). Also, it is put that if Sizewell C did rely on NWL for its potable water, the scale and location of the power station would necessitate additional infrastructure and the impacts of this, including harm to European Sites, have not been assessed.

Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) Chair Jenny Kirtley said: 

“TASC are delighted by the Appeal Court’s decision and welcome the acknowledgement that our appeal, challenging the Secretary of State’s approval of Sizewell C, has a ‘real prospect of success’.

“Sizewell C’s long-term supply of potable water is speculatively reliant on Northumbrian Water’s proposed 2024 water supply plan, which requires domestic consumers to reduce their water use by over 30% while simultaneously reducing current water abstraction levels to protect the environment.  Sizewell C’s dependence on an energy intensive and polluting desalination plant for the 15-year construction period and potentially for 60 years of operation, should have been assessed and presented in the Development Consent Order Application, but was not. After nearly 15 years of consultation and planning it is astonishing that this £30 billion-plus nuclear project has no clear path towards a sustainable operational plan for its water requirements.

“We thank our legal team for all their efforts and all those who have supported our campaign.”

Paul Collins Chair of Stop Sizewell C said: 

“Despite this legal challenge it is clear that Ministers have now ploughed over a billion pounds of taxpayers’ cash into this risky damaging project. This flow of funding into Sizewell C should cease until our appeal against the lawfulness of the Secretary of State’s decision is resolved.”

Rachel Fulcher from Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth said: 

“Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth wholeheartedly support TASC in pursuing this appeal. Meanwhile we will continue to focus on saving what we can of East Suffolk’s precious wildlife, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and our beautiful Heritage Coast which are already being devastated by EDF’s so-called ‘preliminary works’.”

Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith said:

“Our client is delighted that the Courts will further scrutinise the lawfulness of the process that led up to the decision to grant development consent for a third nuclear power plant at Sizewell.

“TASC will now have another chance to argue that the permanent water supply was either part of the Sizewell C project, meaning its impacts needed to be assessed as part of the whole development application, or the water supply was a separate project, in which case its likely impacts needed to be added to those of the power station.”

TASC is fundraising towards the costs of the legal challenge:

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