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Court Dismisses Environmental Challenge To UK Nuclear Plant Approval

A UK court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by an environmental group against Sizewell C nuclear power plant project, ruling that the government’s go-ahead to project was in line with the law.

In the autumn budget statement last November, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, reiterated the plans of Boris Johnson’s previous government to back nuclear power generation in the UK as a means to help the country generate cleaner energy and reach net zero by 2050.

Hunt said that “we need to go further, with a major acceleration of home-grown technologies like offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, and, above all, nuclear.” 

The government thus supported the previous consents given to the Sizewell C nuclear power project.

Sizewell C, being developed by France’s nuclear power giant EDF, is expected to meet 7% of the UK's energy needs for at least 60 years, the French company says. Sizewell C is designed to be a 3.2-gigawatt (GW) power station generating low-carbon electricity for around 6 million UK homes. By replacing fossil-fuel power, the new nuclear plant in Suffolk is expected to avoid around nine million tons of carbon emissions each year.

The project’s approval, however, was challenged in court by the group Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), which argued that the government had failed to adequately consider the environmental impact of the project.

“Our members remain appalled that potential risks to Suffolk’s wildlife and damage to their special habitats have not been taken into account, despite warnings from Natural England,” Rachel Fulcher of Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth said early this year.

But Judge David Holgate of London’s High Court dismissed on Thursday the legal challenge to the approval, ruling that the government’s consent was in line with the country’s energy policy. 

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The legal challenge is an attempt “to rewrite the government's policy aims by pretending that the central policy objective is ... to produce clean energy, without any regard to diversity of energy sources and security of supply,” judge Holgate wrote.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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