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Sizewell C signs land deal with EDF to allow nuclear plant construction works to begin

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Open-access content Jack Loughran

Wed 27 Mar 2024

Sizewell C Ltd, the publicly owned firm behind the new nuclear plant, has signed a deal with EDF Energy to purchase the land needed to construct the project.

The agreement marks a crucial step in its progress gaining eligibility from the Office for Nuclear Regulation to begin construction. Under the terms of the deal, the company will acquire the freehold of the land, essential for the construction and subsequent operation of the new power station.

With the UK’s ageing fleet of eight nuclear power stations in need of replacement, and only EDF’s Hinkley Point C currently undergoing construction, Sizewell C will play an important role in backing up renewable energy in the switch away from fossil fuels. The project is expected to be finished by 2036 at the latest and will provide 7% of the UK’s electricity needs.

The two advanced reactor units (EPRs) will be built on the newly acquired land while the surrounding area will accommodate new wildlife habitats, a temporary construction site, and an accommodation campus for 2,400 workers.

After construction, Sizewell C has promised to restore a significant portion of the land to its natural state, comprising grassland, heathland, scrub and deciduous woodland. 

Today’s announcement comes after the construction phase officially began in January. Efforts to raise equity to help finance the project from private sources is also “continuing to make good progress” and a final investment decision is expected later this year.

Nigel Cann and Julia Pyke, Sizewell C managing directors, said: “This is another important step which fulfils a key requirement of the ONR and demonstrates that Sizewell C is an independent organisation.” 

Nuclear minister Andrew Bowie said: “Sizewell C will be a major piece of our energy infrastructure, helping us achieve our ambition of up to 24GW of low-carbon nuclear power by 2050.”

The new plant is expected to provide low-carbon electricity to approximately six million homes for a minimum of 60 years and is considered to be a major part of providing baseload electricity as part of efforts to decarbonise the grid. 

But it has faced challenges from campaigners who have tried to block its construction on the basis that environmental impact assessments had not been properly carried out – the Court of Appeal ultimately rejected these claims.

In November, Sizewell C announced the construction of a temporary desalination plant, which will provide the project with the water it needs until a connection to the main supply can be secured in the early 2030s.

The government also granted the project an additional £1.3bn in January to support ongoing preparatory works such as improvements to roads and rail lines around the Suffolk site.

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