Sizewell C will boost local biodiversity

We will look after the local environment before, during and after the construction of Sizewell C.

Wildlife has thrived for decades around the existing Sizewell B station and before that at Sizewell A. We will build on a great track record and continue to protect this precious area of the Suffolk coastline. 

The measures we are taking to look after nature include:

  • Designating 250 hectares of land for wildlife 
  • Increasing biodiversity around the power station by 19%
  • Setting up an Environment Trust to manage the Sizewell estate and promote rewilding

We are not building on any land owned by RSPB Minsmere. Where a small part of our boundary meets RSPB land, we are creating a new area of wetland to allow wildlife to thrive. We will limit construction when necessary to reduce noise and we will use directional and low-level lighting. We are confident our plans will not have an impact on this important nature reserve.  

Once Sizewell C is constructed, the nuclear licensed site will amount to 69 hectares - that's less than 0.2% of the total area of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB. Nuclear produces a lot of electricity from a very small land footprint leaving more room for nature.  

The biggest threat to biodiversity is climate change. By lowering carbon emissions, nuclear energy will help to protect the natural environment. 

Carbon emissions and Sizewell C

Sizewell C will provide low-carbon electricity for 6 million homes. It will also pave the way for other low-carbon forms of energy production, including Hydrogen and Direct Air Capture (DAC).

Nuclear uses less land

Nuclear uses a fraction of the land required by some other low-carbon technologies.

The operational site at Sizewell C will take up 33 hectares of land.
To produce the same amount of electricity using onshore wind would require 90,000 hectares of land. A solar farm producing equivalent power would need 30,000 hectares.

19% net gain in biodiversity

The measures we are taking will protect and enhance nature and, in the long run, will lead to a 19% net gain in biodiversity, something that's vital for restoring nature and helping fight climate change.

Sizewell C has created a nature reserve at Aldhurst Farm featuring sixty hectares of grassland and heathland and six hectares of fantastic wetland. The reserve will include areas open to the public for recreational purposes and is already benefitting a variety of wildlife including water voles, otters, eels, amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as rare plants.

Read our environment brochure to learn more!

Sizewell and the sea

The design of the power station, including its sea defence and the raised platform it will be built on, will protect Sizewell C from flooding. Our plans take account of the effect of climate change and the predicted rise in sea levels over the coming decades.

Sizewell and fish

We will use a fish return system, just as we do at Sizewell B, to avoid the impact on fish as much as possible. We will also use a state-of-the art cooling water intake head, specifically engineered to minimise the number of fish captured in the first place.

Everything you need to know about Sizewell C and its water supply

Why does Sizewell C need water?

Potable water is required for civil works such as:

  • Concrete Batching.
  • Construction of cooling water intake/outfall tunnels.
  • Backfilling the Main Construction Area
  • Welfare demands.

Non-potable water can be used, for example, where dust suppression is required, potable quality water should not be used in this case. Other examples include wheel washing, irrigation, road sweepers, and general plant cleaning.

Sizewell C aims to use water in a sustainable manner, focusing first and foremost on reducing the amount of potable water that is required on the site. This will be achieved through several methods:

  • Construction water recycling. Construction water, particularly tunnelling and concrete batching, will be recycled in the construction process as much as possible.  

We have a strategy in place with the water companies to provide water for these areas without impacting the local supply. 

What impact will Sizewell C have on local water supplies?

Sizewell C will have no impact whatsoever on the supply of water to homes and businesses in East Suffolk. All water used by Sizewell C will be from sources developed for Sizewell C. 

The project will leave a legacy of excess water (above and beyond Sizewell C) for Suffolk to help boost supplies for the region. This is needed -  Water Resources East (WRE) predicts that by 2050 the East of England will require around double the amount of water currently used today.

How will Sizewell C’s water be supplied during construction?

Sizewell C has a clear plan for providing all the water the project needs during construction. 

In the first 9-12 months of construction, water will be supplied to site using water tankers. After that, water will be supplied using a desalination plant which will draw its water from the North Sea. 

Northumbrian Water has committed to providing a permanent supply to the project. 

Should this not become available at the point it is needed, the desalination plant could continue to operate throughout the construction phase.

How will Sizewell C be supplied once the power station is operating?

In the longer term, we are working with Northumbrian Water Group (trading locally as Essex and Suffolk Water) to develop new permanent supply schemes to offer a legacy benefit to East Suffolk. 
By developing a desalination plant for the construction phase Sizewell C can help the UK Water Industry pilot the technology to tackle the effects of climate change which will also lead to developing new skills in the region required for the plant.

NB: Cooling water used for generating electricity is provided through the power station’s own sea-water intake system.

Why do you need to use a desalination plant?

Our original proposals did not envisage the need for a desalination plant. We have been consulting with the water utilities for some time and our original planning application set out plans to supply the project using a permanent water main.  

Towards the end of the planning process, Northumbrian Water Group (trading locally as Essex and Suffolk Water) indicated there was a risk that the mains supply might not be able to provide the full amount of drinking water needed in the early years of construction. To make sure there is no risk to the local supply and to ensure the project has adequate water, we have decided to use desalinated water from the sea.

Why did you leave it so late to make this decision?

The change in advice from Northumbrian Water Group (trading locally as Essex and Suffolk Water) came towards the end of the examination of our planning application. It was important that we listened to this new information and adapted our plans accordingly.

Won’t the tankers bring extra pressure to bear on local roads?

No. We have agreed to cap the number of HGVs to and from the main development site each day. HGV movements will be strictly monitored to make sure the total number of journeys remains within agreed limits. We will accommodate the journeys made by the water tankers by rescheduling other deliveries to the site.

Won't operating the desalination plant produce carbon emissions?

We are planning to source a low carbon electricity supply from Sizewell B to power the desalination plant.  However, even in the early stages the assessment that we submitted as part of our planning application, which was based on a set of worst-case assumptions, showed that the desalination plant would have a negligible impact on the project’s overall emissions.

Is Sizewell C intending to establish its own permanent desalination plant?

Globally, several nuclear power projects operate in conjunction with desalination plants. We are confident that Northumbrian Water will be able to meet the project’s long-term water needs through the sources that it is in the process of identifying. Any proposal to use a permanent desalination plant during the operational phase would require further detailed assessments but it should be noted that integrated nuclear desalination is used successfully around the world.

The Sizewell Coast

Why is the Suffolk coastline the right place to build Sizewell C?

The land to the north of Sizewell B was identified as a suitable site for a new nuclear power station by the Government over a decade ago. 

Electricity has been safely produced from nuclear power at Sizewell for over half a century. Siting Sizewell C next to Sizewell B reduces the environmental impact from construction and the site can benefit from nuclear licencing and a grid connection. 

All nuclear plants in the UK are located near the sea so that water can be used in the power station cooling system.

Won’t the power station be at risk because of coastal erosion?

No. Extensive investigations have been undertaken by experts to establish that the Sizewell C site is stable.

Parts of the Suffolk coastline are experiencing erosion, but Sizewell is located on a more stable section of land, between two hard points and the offshore bank of sediment known as the ‘Dunwich - Sizewell Bank’. 

Sizewell A has stood on the same part of coastline since 1966 and Sizewell B has operated since 1995. In more than half a century, neither of those power stations has seen any flooding or significant coastal erosion. 

The Government’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) is based in nearby Lowestoft and has comprehensive data for coastal change on the East Coast going back to the 1800s. The data show that this part of the coast has been very stable.

Won’t rising sea levels threaten the power station?

No. Sizewell C will be built on a platform standing approximately 7 metres above today’s mean sea level and will be protected by a sea defence structure that will be more than 14 metres above mean sea level. These and many other measures incorporated into the design of the power station will protect it from the sea.  

The sea defence will be adaptable and could be raised in future if sea level rise turns out be greater than current predictions. Based on current forecasts, any adaptation would not be needed until 2140 and only under the most extreme climate change scenario. 

We have performed thousands of hours of flood risk modelling using the highest plausible estimates for sea level rise in the Sizewell area. Our assessments show that the power station and access road will be built to withstand a 1-in-10,000-year storm and 1-in-100,000-year surge events.   

Although extreme storm events could result in some sea water coming over the sea defence and pooling around the site, it would drain away in a matter of hours. This is predicted, planned for, and reflected in the design of the entire Sizewell C site. 

Drones are flown over the Sizewell beach each month and photograph every 3cm square of the coastline, producing 3D maps of any changes. Radar and tide gauges will also allow us to monitor sea conditions and levels at Sizewell throughout the lifetime of the power station. If there are any unexpected developments, we will take action to address them.

Read the 2021 Sizewell Coastal Defences report here and the draft Coastal Processes Monitoring and Mitigation Plan (CPMMP) here.

Will Sizewell C have a detrimental impact on fish?

Sizewell C will not have a significant effect on fish populations. Sea water is needed to operate the cooling system of the power station, but a fish return system and specially designed heads on the sea intake pipes will minimise the impact on fish.

Government scientists at CEFAS say there is no scientific evidence that the rates of impingement at Sizewell C will have a significant effect on population sizes.

Fish populations produce vast numbers of young each year. The species which will be most affected by the power station will be sprat and herring but the losses are expected to be just 0.01% of the adult population each year. That’s a tiny fraction of the population size and of the natural variation in the numbers of adult fish from year to year.

Bird numbers are increasing at Steart Marshes close to Hinkley Point C

Nuclear looks after wildlife

EDF nuclear power stations have a great track record of demonstrating how nuclear and nature can exist happily side by side.
Dungeness B sits in the middle of Dungeness National Nature Reserve in Kent. Its diverse landscape is home to many unique plants, animals and birds. Staff at the power station helped to conserve what was, for a long time, the only known colony of Sussex Emerald moths in the UK. 

Hinkley Point C supports the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) which manages Steart Marshes, a habitat creation scheme not far from the construction site. Steart Marshes has seen a big increase in bird populations over the last few years.

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Contact Sizewell C

  • Call: FREEPHONE 0800 197 6102 (Weekdays: 9.00am - 5pm)
  • Write: FREEPOST SZC CONSULTATION (No stamp or further address required)
  • Visit: Sizewell C Information Office, 48-50 High Street, Leiston IP16 4EW (open for visits without appointment 09:00 – 17:00 weekdays only, closed lunchtimes 12:30 – 13:30)
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