Government set to fail first major domestic test of its commitment to saving nature says the RSPB

Tuesday 10 November 2020

The Government looks set to fail in its first major domestic test over its declared commitment to the environment ahead of an upcoming speech by the Prime Minister. 


A recent PR charm offensive by the energy company EDF extolling the green credentials of its proposals to build the Sizewell C nuclear reactor seems to be swaying government opinion, despite the fact that the project may irreversibly damage one of the UK’s most important and well protected wildlife sites. It is rumoured that the Prime Minister will announce the importance of future nuclear energy development in his upcoming 10-point speech on the environment.  


The RSPB’s Chief Executive, Beccy Speight, said: “The Government has committed to protect 30% of the UK’s land by 2030 to boost biodiversity, so allowing the destruction of one of the most nature rich places we already have in the UK would be a crazy decision. The Prime Minister must not let EDF pull the wool over his eyes regarding what a damaging project this would be. 


“If EDF were to be given permission to build a brand-new twin nuclear reactor slap bang on the border of a globally important wildlife haven, then we believe that contrary to the ambition set out by this Government, nowhere in the UK is sacred anymore. The Government has stated that we are in an ecological emergency as well as a climate emergency and it simply cannot afford to waste taxpayer’s money destroying flagship reserves which mean so much to wildlife and people.” 


The RSPB has waited for over a decade for EDF Energy to show them evidence that RSPB Minsmere won’t be irrevocably damaged if the energy giant builds the UK’s latest white elephant: Sizewell C. That evidence has never materialised and EDF continue to try and paint the development as environmentally friendly despite evidence to the contrary. 


Home to a whopping 6000 species, Minsmere is widely acknowledged as one of Europe’s most important wildlife sites and has legal protection at both the national and international level. Protected animals that call the Suffolk coast home like otters, water voles, marsh harriers, bats and many more could all fall victim to this huge infrastructure project and legally protected land, Sizewell Marshes SSSI, could be built directly on. The concerns extend to marine life too with proposals suggesting waters off the local beaches could warm and that toxic chemicals could be pumped into the sea along with worrying numbers of dead fish. 


Beccy Speight continued: “We could be witnessing the horrors of HS2 all over again, wasting tax payers’ money on destroying irreplaceable homes for nature. If Sizewell C was to be built, it should come as no surprise to us all that we would once again be witnessing chainsaws and diggers decimating precious habitats which are not only important to wildlife, but to people’s health and wellbeing too.  For this to happen as we attempt to recover from a pandemic caused by a zoonotic disease only adds to the bitter irony of the situation. We urge the Government to think again.” 


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