Sizewell C could be AXED! New Suffolk nuclear plant is 'under review'

Sizewell C could be AXED! New Suffolk nuclear plant is ‘under review’ as ministers try to find way to fill gaping £50BN blackhole in public finances

  • Sizewell C nuclear plant and Northern Powerhouse Rail reportedly under review
  • New nuclear plant in Suffolk was set to generate electricity for six million homes 
  • However, plans could be delayed or axed altogether, according to the BBC
  • Ministers looking for spending cuts to fill £50bn ‘black hole’ in public finances

A nuclear power plant being built on the Suffolk coast is reportedly under review and could now be delayed or even axed as ministers look for ways to fill a £50bn black hole in public finances.

Sizewell C was set to generate enough low-carbon electricity to supply six million homes, but now there are reports it could be shelved altogether.

Boris Johnson promised £700 million of taxpayers’ money to the project in his final policy speech in early September as he sought to make energy security part of his legacy as prime minister. 

Meanwhile, plans to build a full Northern Powerhouse Rail previously promised by Liz Truss are also in jeopardy, prompting fury from northern leaders.

A government official told the BBC: ‘We are reviewing every major project – including Sizewell C.’

EDF’s Sizewell B nuclear power station (pictured) on the Suffolk Coast. A new nuclear power plant being built on the Suffolk coast is reportedly under review and could now be delayed or even axed amid government spending cuts, according to the BBC

It comes as Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt look for spending cuts and higher taxes to fill the ‘eye-watering’ £50billion black hole in the government finances.

The Chancellor has been meeting colleagues this week as they try to thrash out a package ahead of the crucial Autumn Statement on November 17.

Negotiations on raising funds for Sizewell C, which is set to be developed by French company EDF – are understood to be ongoing, the BBC reported.

It was not due to start generating electricity – to around six million homes – until the 2030s.

The move could also put up to 70,000 jobs which were set to be created by the new nuclear power plant at risk. 

However, one nuclear industry executive source said: ‘As far we know, it’s still on’. 

The news Sizewell C could be shelved will be welcome to some locals living near Leiston, Suffolk, after the plans proved controversial.

Earlier this year, hundreds of locals opposing the plans marched to Sizewell to demonstrate against its expansion. 

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson visiting Sizewell nuclear power station in Suffolk in September this year as he pledged £700 million for the Sizewell C project during his final major policy speech

Building new nuclear plants is key in the government’s strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, with a pledge to build eight new reactors in eight years under the premiership of Boris Johnson. 

This promise was upheld by Mr Sunak while campaigning for the Conservative leadership over the summer, however he has now rowed back on some of his pledges in a bid to balance the books. 

Meanwhile, union GMB said a decision to pull support from Sizewell C ‘would be catastrophic’.

Andy Prendergast, GMB’s national secretary, said: ‘we really could see the UK’s lights go out. Without new nuclear there can be no net zero.’

A Treasury spokesperson told the broadcaster that delivering infrastructure projects was ‘a priority’.

‘HS2 is under way, within budget, and supporting 28,000 jobs, we are also seeking to approve at least one large-scale nuclear project in the next few years and aim to speed up the delivery of around 100 major infrastructure projects across the UK.’

Plans for the rail line, ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’ are also expected to be scaled back, despite former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ pledge last month to build a fully electrified 124-mile rail line in northern England.

People waiting to board a train at Crewe station (pictured), one of the stops on the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail line

However, it has now been suggested that the new line may not go ahead in full as the government looks for ways to cut back.

No 10 said the Mr Sunak would carry out an ‘across-the-board’ review of the pledges made by Ms Truss, Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister,  to see if they are still deliverable in the current economic climate.

It was hoped a high speed rail would link up towns and cities across the coast, from Hull to Liverpool through Bradford as part of the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda.

‘There wasn’t really much point in going and blasting new tunnels through the Pennines.

‘It’s not true to say we’re not delivering on what we said we would do on levelling up the north,’ Mr Shapps told the BBC.

Henri Murison, chief executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership lobby group said there now were ‘serious questions’ about the government’s plans.

‘The North’s woeful transport infrastructure continues to weigh down our economy and hold back private investment.

‘This option saves little to nothing to Treasury coffers now. Northern Powerhouse Rail is still in early development stage meaning that the vast majority of the investment needed is well beyond the current spending review period.’

EDF has been approached for comment.

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