Plans to build the Sizewell C 3.2 GW nuclear power plant have been backed by £100 million of government funding in order to try and attract further financing from private investors.
The project, estimated to cost £20 billion, has been undergoing assessment for the past year and a half with a final decision expected in April. Negotiations between the government and project developer EDF started last year.
The government’s approach was summed up by business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who said: "In light of high global gas prices, we need to ensure Britain's future energy supply is bolstered by reliable, affordable, low-carbon power that is generated in this country. New nuclear is not only an important part of our plans to ensure greater energy independence, but to create high-quality jobs and drive economic growth. The funding announced today will further support the development of Sizewell C during this important phase of negotiations as we seek to maximise investor confidence in this nationally significant project."
The government has made up to £1.7 billion of new direct funding available for developing a large-scale nuclear project to the point of a final investment decision in this parliamentary session.
Reaction from stakeholders has been mixed, but largely along the lines one would expect. General secretary of the large trade union Unite, Sharon Graham, said: "This is a step forward but the government needs to take the handbrake off when it comes to the development of new nuclear power stations.”
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the ginger group Nuclear Industry Association commented: “This is another big step forward for Sizewell C and a big vote of confidence in nuclear. It sends a clear signal from government to investors that it sees projects like Sizewell C as essential to our clean energy transition.”
However local campaign group ‘Stop Sizewell C’ is opposed to the plans saying they will have a ‘devastating impact’ in particular on the natural environment of the area. And Greenpeace UK's policy director Dr Doug Parr commented: "This cash injection is a tacit admission by the government that nuclear is not commercially viable, but they are so fixated on getting 20th-century nuclear technology delivered they'll just keep throwing taxpayers' money at it. Including all the other subsidy sources, Sizewell C will now have subsidised development, subsidised construction, subsidised power production and subsidised waste management, for a project by a subsidised company."