I do not share your enthusiasm for the “good news” that Sizewell C is believed to be safe from Jeremy Hunt’s budgetary cuts (“Britain can’t afford to waver over nuclear power – soon it will be too late”, Editorial). “On a freezing cold, windless, winter’s evening”, Britain’s grid will indeed need an alternative power source to wind or solar, but why is it assumed that only nuclear can provide an alternative base load? And at the cost of how many billions? And how many decades of lead time?
Geothermal could do the job faster, more safely and cheaply – for about a quarter of the cost. Geothermal power plants operate already in the United States, Italy and Iceland. And nothing is more certain and regular than the tide twice a day; sea turbines already operate in tidal flows off Orkney and Shetland and are another safe source of energy baseload. Let us not be blinkered by nuclear.
Your leader on Sizewell C ignores a couple of factors that are key to our local objections. First, the coastline on which Sizewell A and B are built and Sizewell C is proposed is disintegrating at an increasingly alarming rate – just two weeks’ ago a building at nearby Thorpeness had to be demolished due to collapse of the cliffs. Second, there is insufficient water in Suffolk to build and operate Sizewell C, which was one of the main reasons the government’s own planning inspectorate advised against it recently. Water is planned to be found through the construction of desalination plants – these require huge amounts of energy, but more importantly the waste salt and other minerals from the extraction process will be put back into the sea, poisoning the waters around for miles.
There are other reasons why this is a disastrous location: it is a site of special scientific interest and an area of outstanding natural beauty and the prototype for this type of reactor has yet to be proved at Flamanville – still not operational, years over schedule and way over budget. Nuclear has moved on since the design of these reactors. The government should think again.