Campaigners call on ONR and Environment Agency to block scheme

The government’s decision to approve plans to build a new nuclear power plant in Suffolk has been upheld as lawful by the Court of Appeal. 

A legal challenge by campaign group Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), which argued the government had failed to consider the need for water supply when approving the proposals, was dismissed by the court.  

It is the second successive legal defeat for the campaigners, after the High Court rejected their legal challenge in June.  

Sizewell C

Plans for Sizewell C, seen here in an artist’s impression, were given the government green light last year

Campaigners have been fighting against the proposed scheme since the then business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng gave the scheme the green light in 2022. 

Together Against Sizewell C, jointly with Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth and Stop Sizewell C, said in a statement: ‘We are dismayed by this decision and struggle to understand how the potable water supply that £30billion+ Sizewell C is totally reliant on for its 60 years of operation can be considered lawfully, or indeed rationally, as a separate project, particularly as its absence caused the panel of five expert planning inspectors to caution against Sizewell C being awarded planning consent.”

The groups accused the government of being “hell-bent on continuing this reckless and blinkered rush towards the cliff edge of deeper national bankruptcy and continued environmental damage in its vain attempt to reach net zero carbon by 2050 through betting taxpayers’ money on nuclear power”.  

They urged the Office of Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency to “flex their regulatory muscles” and refuse to licence the scheme. 

In a statement, Sizewell C said: “After two previous High Court dismissals on this issue, we welcome today’s judgement.”  

It added: “Following excellent progress of pre-commencement work this year, we’re now looking forward to beginning the construction phase in 2024.” 

The company has previously said energy created at neighbouring Sizewell B would be used to run a desalination plant while construction of the new plant took place, although a permanent water supply has yet to be arranged. 

Sizewell C said on Wednesday that it was to start formal negotiations with Essex & Suffolk Water to begin construction of a new water main for the region. 

The government announced a new £170m investment in July to speed up preparations for the scheme and in September opened up applications for private companies to invest. 

Sizewell C is one part of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s (DESNZ) strategy to generate 24GW of the UK’s power from nuclear sources by 2050.    

When it comes online, the two-reactor scheme will generate a total 3.2GW of electricity, equivalent to 7% of the UK’s electricity.