Hunt confirms go ahead for Sizewell C plant but pressure grows ‘to get on with it’

The Government has given the go ahead for the plant (EDF )
The Government has given the go ahead for the plant (EDF )

Jeremy Hunt confirmed the construction of the long-awaited Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk during his Autumn Statement on Thursday afternoon.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hunt said the new plant would create 10,000 highly skilled jobs as well as providing reliable, low carbon energy to six million homes and will generate electricity for 60 years.

The plant will also help protect the UK from international gas prices and aid the country’s pursuit to be energy secure, Mr Hunt added.

He said: "There is only one way to stop ourselves being at the mercy of international gas prices: energy independence combined with energy efficiency.

"Britain is a global leader in renewable energy but we need to go further, with a major acceleration of home-grown technologies like offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, and, above all, nuclear."

There had been suggestions that the plant, which is estimated to cost between £20-30billion, may be axed as part of the Government’s pursuit to balance the books.

But the Chancellor said the Government would invest £700 million adding that it was the first state backing for a nuclear project in over 30 years.

Despite his comments, Sue Ferns, senior deputy general secretary of Prospect union called for the Government to provide investors with assurances in order for them to commit after years of delay over the nuclear plant.

"The Government’s reiteration of its commitment to Sizewell C is welcome but merely restating previous announcements is not enough,” she said.

“This is not something that can wait. Potential investors are seeking assurances now and without their commitment, dependent on a firm decision from the Government, the project risks being holed below the waterline.

"Enough warm words - get on with what is necessary."

Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Tom Greatrex, said: “This is a huge moment for Sizewell C, for UK energy security and for the future of nuclear in Britain.

“Sizewell C will be one of the UK’s most important green infrastructure projects ever, and critical to the Government’s commitment to strengthen energy independence, cut gas use and bring down bills.

“The UK now needs to urgently get on with building new nuclear plants alongside renewables to meet the targets set out in the Energy Security Strategy, and we look forward to Sizewell C contracts being signed in the next few weeks.

"This announcement also paves the way for the development of a pipeline of new nuclear projects, both large and small modular reactors, to deliver clean, reliable power for the British people."