RSPB and Sizewell C 

With final plans submitted for a new nuclear power plant next to our much loved Minsmere reserve, we look at what this means for globally threatened nature and why we’re making a stand to #LoveMinsmere. 

What is Sizewell C? 

EDF Energy have just submitted their final proposals to build a new twin nuclear reactor, Sizewell C, on their Sizewell Estate on the Suffolk coast. If given the go-ahead, the construction would bring the Sizewell Estate right up to the border of RSPB Minsmere nature reserve: an internationally and nationally important wildlife haven.  

What’s our position? 

We have not seen the evidence from EDF that Sizewell C can be built without detrimentally impacting internationally and nationally important landscapes, habitats and species of the Suffolk coast, at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve, Sizewell Belts SSSI and beyond. Without this evidence we have been forced to conclude that the build must not go ahead given it’s anticipated harmful impacts on the environment.   

We have united in this position against Sizewell C with Suffolk Wildlife Trust.  

Adam Rowlands, RSPB Suffolk Area Manager said: “The Government has already recognised in their National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation (EN-6) that Sizewell C could have detrimental impacts on internationally and nationally important landscapes, habitats and species of the Suffolk coast and at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve.  

“EDF have not presented us with sufficient evidence that these disastrous impacts can be avoided.   Without this evidence, we have been forced to conclude given the levels of uncertainty, that the build must not go ahead given its anticipated impacts on the environment.”  

Adam Rowlands added: “It’s outrageous that EDF have decided to proceed with this decision in the midst of a public health crisis. Nature is crucial to many people’s mental and physical wellbeing at this time of national challenge and I’m sure many will be disappointed to know that plans for Sizewell C represent a huge loss for nature.” 

What does Sizewell C mean for nature? 

The location of Sizewell C will bring the development right up to the border of the RSPB Minsmere nature reserve. RSPB Minsmere is recognised as one of Europe’s most important areas for nature and is protected by multiple national and international nature conservation designations.  With more than 6,000 different animals and plants recorded on the reserve, RSPB Minsmere is one of the most wildlife-rich nature reserves in the UK. Some of the UK’s rarest birds, such as marsh harriers and bitterns, narrowly avoided extinction in the UK after producing offspring after nesting in Minsmere’s reedbeds. 

Sizewell C has the potential to cause significant negative impacts on the reserve’s land and animals. 

Did you know that artificial light can disrupt bird migration? This means they can miss the best conditions for nesting and finding food. 

Our key potential concerns include: 

  • The impact of noise and artificial light on rare wildlife that is very sensitive to such disturbance, particularly marsh harriers - one of the UK's rarest birds.   
  • Reducing our ability to manage water levels on the reserve, which is vital for managing the reedbeds and other freshwater habitats that are home to rare wildlife like otters, bitterns and avocets. 
  • The potential erosion of Minsmere's coastline, which could accelerate when you build new coastal structures. This could pose a significant threat to Minsmere's special freshwater and coastal wildlife. 

Did you know there are less than 2000 otters in England? Minsmere hosts one of the best otter viewing spots in England. 


What happens now? 

EDF have submitted their final plans through the formal planning process. The plans go to the Planning Inspectorate, where they will need to be approved for further examination. If the plans are accepted for examination, then they will be made publicly available and the Planning Inspectorate will highlight how interested parties can share their views on the plans.  

The journey so far to #LoveMinsmere 

EDF have held four public consultations from 2012 to 2019 on their proposals for Sizewell C. We have been heavily involved in each consultation stating our concerns for nature.  

During the Stage 3 public consultation, we launched our #LoveMinsmere campaign which resulted in more than 20,000 people writing to EDF stating why they Love Minsmere and why the reserve must be protected.  

Then when EDF launched an unexpected Stage 4 public consultation we organised  the #LoveMinsmere festival, where over 1000 people gathered on Whin Hill, site of the BBC Springwatch studio, and one of the reserve’s most amazing viewpoints, to form an outline of the #LoveMinsmere love heart with Sizewell in the background. This sent a visual message to EDF that the reserve must be protected.  

Our #LoveMinsmere campaign has also seen celebrity backing, with support from Chris Packham, Bill Turnbull, Iolo Williams, Diana Quick and Love Island’s Jack Fincham.  

We also called on EDF to: 

  • Make a public statement that Minsmere will be protected from any potential harm from the development of Sizewell C. 
  • Fully assess the impact that Sizewell C could have on Minsmere's habitats and wildlife. 
  • Publish a clear plan outlining how EDF will address any potential impacts of Sizewell C on Minsmere. 

As of yet, we have not seen sufficient evidence from EDF that explicitly answers our questions. As we face twin threats of a climate emergency and a global biodiversity collapse, we will continue to stand against harmful actions. It is important that we address these twin challenges by developing in harmony with nature – this means the right technology in the right place. 

For more information and the latest updates check out our Sizewell C and Love Minsmere webpages. 

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