Legal challenge to Government permission to build Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station
Campaigners against the Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station have written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to legally challenge his decision to give the go ahead to build Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station against the advice of the planning Examining Authority.
Posted on 08 August 2022
Together Against Sizewell C Limited (TASC) has sent a pre-action protocol (PAP) letter, which signals the start of the judicial review process, to make the case that development consent was given to the 60-year electricity project unlawfully.
TASC gave evidence to the Examining Authority (ExA) that the 3.2 gigawatt power station to be built alongside the 27-year-old Sizewell B nuclear plant should not be built in that Suffolk location where the water supply cannot be guaranteed, and the coastline will not be resilient for the entire lifetime of the project.
The ExA accepted TASC’s arguments in part, and recommended refusal of development consent. However, Mr Kwarteng rejected the advice and granted consent on 20 July, 2022.
Now TASC, represented by law firm Leigh Day, says in its PAP letter the decision was unlawful, because there was a failure:
- To assess the implications of the project as a whole, by ignoring the issue of whether a permanent water supply could be secured
- Even if it was lawful to consider the water supply as a separate project to the plant, to assess the environmental impact of that project cumulatively with the impact of Sizewell C
- To explain, in the alternative, why the Secretary of State disagreed with Natural England’s warnings about the risks of not assessing all elements of the planning proposal at the Development Consent Order stage
- To consider alternatives to the project
- By taking into account reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), when there was no evidence that the water supply solution would be in place before a key deadline for GHG targets
- By assuming the site would be clear of nuclear material by 2140, when the evidence showed a much later date.
TASC Chair, Pete Wilkinson said:
“The case against Sizewell C is overwhelming, as has been carefully documented throughout the inquiry stage and was found by the Planning Inspector to have merit. Even to consider building a £20+ bn nuclear power plant without first securing a water supply is a measure of the fixation this government has for nuclear power and its panic in making progress towards an energy policy which is as unachievable as it is inappropriate for the 21st century challenges we face.
“Government has seen fit to ignore the Planning Inspector's recommendation to deny the application and it therefore falls to campaign groups to defend East Suffolk from the ravages of this unnecessary nuclear development. TASC has engaged Leigh Day to take its case to the courts and is delighted to be supported by Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth in this effort and to work with others opposed to this scandalous attack on the Suffolk environment.”
Rachel Fulcher, co-ordinator for Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth, who are supporting TASC’s judicial review, said:
"We have profound concern for the fate of our beautiful wildlife sites that will go under concrete or are otherwise damaged, and the many rare and protected species that inhabit them, if this destructive development is allowed to proceed. We are pleased to be supporting TASC with this important legal challenge."
Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith said:
“We are proud to represent TASC in the local community’s continued fight to help protect Suffolk’s heritage coast and wildlife sites. Our client is understandably shocked that the Secretary of State has gone against the considered and reasoned view of the independent Planning Inspectorate and granted development consent in a potentially legally flawed manner. TASC has very real concerns that the environmental impacts of Sizewell C have not been properly assessed. If the Secretary of State does not see the error of his ways, then we intend to do all we can to bring this to the Court’s attention.”
TASC is fundraising towards the costs of the judicial review.