Legal challenge to UK’s Sizewell C nuclear project approval

Lawyers representing campaigners argued in London’s High Court that the government did not evaluate the environmental impact of the nuclear power plant

Big Zero Report 2022

A legal challenge has been raised in London’s High Court against the government’s approval of the Sizewell C nuclear project.

Campaign group Together Against Sizewell C argues in court that the environmental impacts of securing a water supply for the proposed Suffolk nuclear plant were not assessed, leaving the government unable to guarantee an opening date or justify its contribution to climate change.

The group also claims that no renewable alternatives were considered before the Secretary of State for Energy approved the project in July 2022.

According to written arguments submitted to the court, the government’s legal representatives dismissed the campaigners’ claims as “reflecting disagreements” aired during the consultation, stating that the government had “lawfully” determined that EDF‘s long-term water supply for the proposed nuclear plant was “viable in principle” and did not prevent the granting of consent.

Jenny Kirtley of Together Against Sizewell C commented: “This generation’s inactivity on climate change has already compromised future generations. To proceed with Sizewell C while being fully aware that it is highly vulnerable to sea level rise, storm surges and flooding only adds to the inter-generational burden we pass on.

“Deliberately doing so when alternatives to nuclear power are available, is irresponsible, immoral and borders on being criminal.”

Leigh Day Solicitor Rowan Smith said: “Without a permanent water supply, Sizewell C cannot function. Our client is adamant that this made the supply an essential part of the project that needed to be assessed.

“The failure to do so, it will be argued, went to the heart of what was legally wrong with the Secretary of State’s decision to approve this locally and nationally contentious new nuclear power station.”

A government spokesperson told ELN: “It would not be appropriate for the Department to comment on a live legal challenge.”

ELN has approached EDF for comment – the company declined to comment.

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