Critical evidence is missing from Sizewell C application say wildlife charities

Sydney Henderson

Tuesday 29 September 2020

 

Critical evidence is missing from Sizewell C application say wildlife charities

 

  • The RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) say that critical evidence is missing from EDF’s Sizewell C Development Consent Order (DCO) application and must therefore conclude that the build must not go ahead.
  • Without this evidence, the charities say they can’t properly assess the application and all its potential impacts on nature and the environment at RSPB Minsmere, Sizewell Marshes SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and beyond.
  • The lack of evidence is causing concern as it leaves an uncertain future for several protected animals including: otters, water voles, marsh harriers, bats, natterjack toads, red-throated divers and more.
  • In some cases, plans to mitigate the impacts on these species either don’t exist or are seriously lacking in detail.
  • The charities say that Sizewell C will result in catastrophic losses for nature, not a net-gain for nature as EDF claims.

 

The RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) are deeply concerned that critical evidence is missing from EDF’s Sizewell C DCO application. Without this evidence, the charities say they can’t properly assess the application and all its potential impacts on nature and the environment at RSPB Minsmere, Sizewell Marshes SSSI and beyond.

During recent public consultations, the RSPB and SWT raised concerns about several potential environmental impacts where critical evidence was missing or inadequate, meaning EDF’s assessments are incomplete. Conservationists were therefore disappointed to find that this evidence is still missing from the final application.

Adam Rowlands, RSPB Suffolk Area Manager said: “We are extremely worried to find huge gaps in EDF’s Sizewell C application. As well as the missing and inadequate evidence, there are also details missing from the designs and plans too. Without these we can’t have confidence in EDF’s assessment of the build’s impacts on wildlife and the possible effectiveness of the proposed mitigation, particularly at RSPB Minsmere and on Sizewell Marshes SSSI.

“One of our biggest worries is the impacts on marine life. We are concerned by the incomplete data and methods used to draw limited assessments on the impacts. Without a more thorough assessment, we are concerned that a cocktail of toxic chemicals and a huge amount of dead fish could be pumped into the sea [Note 1].

“This could reduce food supplies for important seabirds like terns and red-throated divers that forage just offshore from RSPB Minsmere. These birds could also be disturbed by movements from ships and dredgers off the coast. This could have significant impacts on our already fragile local seabird populations.

“The extensive lack of detail extends to the proposals on land too, which could be disastrous for some of our much-loved animals like water voles and otters that call this area home. We are in an ecological emergency, a time when we need to revive our world, big builds should not only protect existing nature, but also enhance it. These plans don’t even come close to meeting this need.”

Ben McFarland, Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Head of Conservation said: “EDF’s plans leave some of our rarest animals facing an uncertain fate.

“The hibernation site of rare natterjack toads, a species with only a handful of colonies left in England, will be built on – a major blow for an animal that is already struggling. Bats, including threatened barbastelle bats, could also suffer as the current plans will fragment their habitat. They will also be disturbed by increased levels of noise and light.

“All these animals are highly protected by law yet plans to mitigate the impacts on these animals either don’t exist or are seriously lacking in detail. It’s very worrying.”

The RSPB and SWT’s review of the plans leaves them in no doubt that, without this evidence, Sizewell C could result in catastrophic losses for nature, not a net-gain as EDF claims.

Ben McFarland added: “The development will replace existing areas, rich in wildlife, with areas that support fewer species. These new habitats will take a long time to reach the same level of value as existing sites, and measures that reduce the impact must first be identified and be suitable before counting any additional benefits as a net-gain for nature.

“This is not forgetting the devastating loss of a significant proportion of the Sizewell Marshes SSSI, which is a nationally significant protected site which provides a safe refuge for a whole host of animals and plants.”

The lack of evidence to negate these ecological concerns leave both the RSPB and SWT firm in their position that Sizewell C must not be built.

 

Ends

For further information and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Sydney Henderson, RSPB Country Communications Officer, England: Mob: 07834617865 Email:  Sydney.henderson@rspb.org.uk

 

Sarah Groves, Suffolk Wildlife Trust Communications Manager: Tel: 01473 890089 Email: sarah.groves@suffolkwildlifetrust.org

 

Photographs:

A selection of photos to accompany this news release can be viewed and downloaded using the following link: https://we.tl/t-6LsL8btW09

 

Editor’s notes:

 

  1. The discharges the RSPB and SWT are concerned with are: thermal discharges, bromoform, hydrazine, chromium, dissolved inorganic nitrogen and organic matter (dead fish).
  2. National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation (EN-6) Volume I: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/47859/2009-nps-for-nuclear-volumeI.pdf and Volume II: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/47860/1943-nps-nuclear-power-annex-volII.pdf
  3. The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.
  4. Part of The Wildlife Trust movement, Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s vision is for a wilder Suffolk, where everyone is doing more for nature.

 

Last Updated: Wednesday 30 September 2020

Tagged with: Country: England Topic: England Topic: Grassland Topic: Marine and intertidal Topic: Wetland Topic: Casework Topic: Campaigns Topic: Climate change Topic: Conservation Topic: Science Topic: Site conservation Topic: Species conservation Topic: Minsmere Topic: Ramsar site Topic: SSSI