Sizewell C New Nuclear Power Station

The Sizewell C new nuclear power station at Sizewell in East Suffolk is one of the single most important energy infrastructure projects in the UK for a generation.  

The Sizewell C new nuclear power station at Sizewell in East Suffolk is one of the single most important energy infrastructure projects in the UK for a generation.  

It is being promoted by NNB Generation Company (SZC) Limited (“NNB”), part of the EDF Energy Group that is currently building the Hinkley Point C new nuclear power station in Somerset, the first new nuclear power station to be constructed in the UK for more than 20 years. 

The 3.2-gigawatt power station at Sizewell will be built alongside the existing operational Sizewell B nuclear power station.  It will comprise two UK European Pressurised Reactor units, and once operational will generate enough low-carbon electricity to supply six million homes for at least 60 years.

In addition to the construction and operation of the power station itself, the wider Sizewell C project includes a long list of other development including the creation of a large area of replacement reedbed habitat, fen meadow and marsh harrier compensation land, an accommodation campus, park and ride schemes, bypass and link roads, a freight management facility and the extension of a railway line to the development site.

The proposals cover a total site area of 1011.6 ha (371.7ha onshore and 639.9ha offshore).

The main development site lies within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and includes approximately 10ha of the Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Legal Context

The Sizewell C project is a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ (“NSIP”) as defined in the Planning Act 2008, which created a system of development consent for NSIPs in England and Wales.  As such, development consent for the project takes the form of a Development Consent Order (“DCO”).

The DCO is a statutory instrument, and in addition to granting development consent for the proposed development it also grants powers of compulsory acquisition over the land needed for the project, amends the operation of a range of Acts of Parliament so far as they affect the project and generally provides all of the powers needed to build, maintain and operate the development over its lifetime.

Decision-making and Litigation

NNB’s application for a DCO was scrutinised by an Examining Authority (“ExA”) comprising a panel of five inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“SSBEIS”).  The examination into the application lasted for six months between April and October 2021, with three rounds of written questions from the ExA, 15 Issue Specific Hearings, 2 Compulsory Acquisition Hearings and 4 Open Floor Hearings. Over 4,300 documents were submitted during the course of the process.

Following the close of the examination, the ExA submitted a report to the SSBEIS with its findings and recommendations.  The report comprised four volumes and over 1,500 pages (plus appendices).  

The SSBEIS approved the application and granted the necessary DCO on 20 July 2022 (see news item).

Three objector groups sent pre-action protocol letters threatening to bring proceedings for judicial review of the SSBEIS’s decision.  Two of those groups then made applications to the High Court for permission to seek judicial review (the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (“RSPB”) and Together Against Sizewell C Limited (“TASC”).  The RSPB’s application was subsequently withdrawn after it was pointed out that it had been filed one day beyond the statutory time limit.

TASC’s application for permission was refused on the papers by Kerr J on 18 October 2022 (see news item).  TASC’s application for permission was refused on the papers by Kerr J on 18 October 2022.  TASC renewed its application for permission which was considered by the High Court at a ‘rolled up’ hearing before Holgate J over two days in March 2023 (TASC Ltd. v. SSBEIS (CO/3147/2022)).  On 22 June 2023 Holgate J dismissed the renewed application, refusing permission on all grounds (R (TASC Ltd.) v. (1) Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero (2) NNB Generation Company (SZC) Ltd [2023] EWHC 1526 (Admin)) (see news item).

FTB Involvement

Several members of Francis Taylor Building have been and continue to be involved in the Sizewell C Project.

Our members represented NNB, East Suffolk Council (“ESC”) and various local landowners throughout the six month examination, and are representing NNB in the ongoing litigation concerning the decision of the SSBEIS to approve the project.  Others provided advice to NNB in relation to various aspects of the Sizewell C project in the run-up to that process. 

Members also appeared on behalf of NNB, ESC and others in judicial review of earlier preparatory decision-making in relation to the Sizewell C project:

  • ESC’s decision to grant planning permission for the relocation of various facilities associated with the existing Sizewell B nuclear power station to make space for Sizewell C (Girling v. East Suffolk Council [2020] EWHC 2579 (Admin)). 
  • The Infrastructure Planning Commission’s decision to grant rights of entry to third party land to NNB for the purposes of preparing its application for a DCO (R (Dowley) v. SoSCLG [2016] EWHC 2618 (Admin).

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