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Campaigners apply for Supreme Court appeal in fight against Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station

Undeterred campaigners will fight on and bid to take their legal challenge against the Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station to the Supreme Court.

Together Against Sizewell C Limited (TASC) is refusing to admit defeat after Court of Appeal judges ruled that the issue of a permanent water supply and public interest in the development was not enough to derail the project in law.

TASC went to the Court of Appeal after its judicial review of then Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s 2022 decision to give development consent to the 3.2 gigawatt power station was dismissed. Mr Kwarteng gave permission for the power station against the advice of the planning Examining Authority and TASC brought a range of arguments about the need for a water supply to make the project sustainable in the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Now, represented by the environment team at law firm Leigh Day, plus barristers David Wolfe KC (Matrix), Ashley Bowes (Landmark) and Ruchi Parekh (Cornerstone), TASC has applied to the Supreme Court for permission to bring an appeal.

TASC says it is clear a desalination plant will be needed to guarantee a permanent water supply of two million litres per day for Sizewell C. However, the environmental impact of acquiring such a supply was not included in the planning application for the nuclear power plant and therefore was neither assessed nor taken into account by the Business Secretary.

TASC said the issue of a water supply should not have been treated as a separate issue to the power plant application which EDF claims will produce electricity for 60 years in the heart of Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

TASC say the company could at any time have decided to proceed with a desalination plant but, instead, chose to keep open the option of a supply provided by Northumbrian Water Ltd (NWL). Also, it is put that if Sizewell C did rely on NWL for its potable water, the scale and location of the power station would necessitate additional infrastructure and the impacts of this, including harm to sites of vulnerable habitat protected by European (now domestic) law, have not been assessed.

Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) joined with supporters Stop Sizewell C and Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth to issue a joint statement:

"With Ministers greenlighting deeply flawed Sizewell C, despite no identified operational water supply, no acceptable design of sea defences necessary to keep the site safe for 100-plus years, ignoring warnings of climate change related extreme weather events and the need to build resilient and sustainable infrastructure, we are delighted our legal team are taking the Sizewell C fight to the Supreme Court. It is the government's decision to drive a bulldozer through East Suffolk by triggering Sizewell C's construction when it has no nuclear site licence, no Final Investment Decision or transparency about how much the project will cost or who might pay for it, that has forced us to take our case to the highest court in the land."

Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith said:

“Fundamentally, our client is arguing that, without a permanent water supply, Sizewell C cannot operate, so the environmental impacts of sourcing that water needed to be assessed before development consent was given. The failure to do so was made even worse, so they say, given Suffolk is in drought and has vulnerable habitats, which need to be protected. We sincerely hope the Supreme Court grants permission to appeal for this decision to be looked at again.”

TASC is fundraising towards the costs of the legal challenge: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-suffolks-heritage-coast-w/

Rowan Smith
Climate change Environment Human rights Judicial review Planning Wildlife

Rowan Smith

Rowan Smith is a senior associate solicitor in the human rights department.

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Campaigners fight on with legal action against go-ahead for Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station

Campaigners will continue fighting the decision to give the go ahead to build  Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station which EDF claims will produce electricity for 60 years in the heart of Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Natural Beauty, principally on the issue of a permanent water supply.

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