High Court allows legal challenge against Sizewell C enabling works to proceed

Campaigners have been granted permission to bring a judicial review against a local authority's consent for preparatory works for a new nuclear power plant in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) in Suffolk.

A visualisation of the proposed new Sizewell nuclear plant (pic: EDF)
A visualisation of the proposed new Sizewell nuclear plant (pic: EDF)

East Suffolk Council granted energy company EDF Energy consent last September to chop down part of the Coronation Wood in order to relocate operational buildings for the existing Sizewell B nuclear power station and provide a new visitor centre.

The wood is located within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.

The relocation is designed to pave the way for the development of EDF's new nuclear Sizewell C power plant, which is proposed on land presently occupied by the buildings.

EDF submitted an application to the Planning Inspectorate for a development consent order for Sizewell C, which would be built next to the existing 'B' plant, last month.

Permission to proceed with the challenge to East Suffolk's permission for the relocated buildings was initially refused by the High Court.

However, following a half-day hearing last week, Mrs Justice Andrews allowed local resident Joan Girling of the Together Against Sizewell C campaign group leave to challenge East Suffolk Council's decision.

The appeal was allowed to proceed on the basis that it is arguable that there were deficiencies within the environmental impact assessment relied upon by the council in making their planning decision.

However, permission was refused on two of the three grounds for the challenge, including that the proposed development did not give rise to the exceptional legal circumstances required to justify a major development in an AONB.

Granting permission to bring the claim, Mrs Justice Andrews set a ten-week target date for determination of the "significant planning court claim".

TASC claims that without the ability to clear Coronation Wood, additional space for the 'C' plant cannot be created, which could delay further or even "force the abandonment of the entire project".

And a spokesman for the group accused East Suffolk Council of "woeful disregard" to the lawful process required when approving EDF's plans.

Dr Ashley Bowes of Cornerstone Barristers acted for the claimant, together with David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers, instructed by Rowan Smith of solicitors Leigh Day.

A spokesman for EDF said: "We note that there will be a judicial review hearing held in due course in relation to a planning decision for permission to relocate some of the Sizewell B existing buildings on EDF land. We will provide any further information required to support the hearing."

East Suffolk Council was contacted for a comment but had not responded by time of publication.

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