Sizewell C 2nd Consultation: Mains Water

In the 321 pages of the 2nd consultation document there is no mention at all about the use of mains water. When I asked a Sizewell “expert?? during the stage 2 consultation roadshow, he was unaware that Sizewell C would require 1,600 m3 mains water per day, and thought that I was asking about water that would be used to make tea and flush the toilets. When I explained how much water would be required, he suggested that it was not EDF’s problem as they would just buy the water from the water company and let them work out where it is to come from.

That answer was wrong:

Sizewell B currently uses around 800m3 of mains water a day, which is 7% of of the total demand of the local catchment area.1 The twin-reactors of Sizewell C would require at least 1,600m3 of mains water per day in order to cool various parts of the plant including the primary and secondary circuits of the reactor, which means approximately 20% of the water from the local catchment area would be taken by the power plant. The East Suffolk Catchment Abstraction Management Strategies (CAMS) covers an area of 1364km2 and includes Felixstowe, Ipswich, Woodbridge, Wickham Market, Stowmarket, Saxmundham, Halesworth, Southwold and Kessingland.2

Households in Suffolk are being asked to conserve water because it is recognised that this is one of the driest regions in the country and there is little scope for abstracting more water from local water sources.2

The committee on climate change report “UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017?? 3 cites ‘Flooding and coastal change risks to communities, businesses and infrastructure’ as the biggest threat that comes with climate change the top 6 risks also includes ‘Risk of shortages in the public water supply, and for agriculture, energy generation and industry’

The report goes on to say:

“Climate change is projected to reduce the amount of water in the environment that can be sustainably withdrawn whilst increasing the demand for irrigation during the driest months. At the same time the growing population will create additional demands on already stretched resources in some parts of the country. Even low population growth and modest climate change scenarios suggest severe water supply deficits??4

Edf has an obligation under the governments national policy statement for energy to submit an an environmental statement which includes details of how much water in intends to abstract and what impact this will have on existing water resources:

“5.15.3 The ES should in particular describe:

…existing water resources affected by the proposed project and the impacts of the proposed project on water resources, noting any relevant existing abstraction rates, proposed new abstraction rates and proposed changes to abstraction rates (including any impact on or use of mains supplies and reference to Catchment Abstraction Management Strategies)??5

EDF is also required to set out their strategy for mains water use in order to comply with The Suffolk Ecology Principles for Sizewell C, which state:

“The anticipated levels of water use and a suitable potable water source for the development must be identified to ensure there is adequate capacity and that this can be achieved in a sustainable manner that will not have an adverse effect upon river flows or wetland sites.??6

The impact that Sizewell c will have on the mains water supply was recognised and flagged up during the stage 1 consultation by individuals and in the response from Leiston Town Council:

9.5 There are serious issues concerning Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council regarding potable water. It is unclear from the information provided what the actual intake of water associated with Sizewell C is going to be, and how much will be needed for the reactors. Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council has been informed that, with the intake of Sizewell B, the potable water situation in the area is currently only just in balance.7

The fact that Edf have completely ignored the question of mains water use despite it being queried by respondents in the first consultation and as early as 20101 shows that Edf have a complete lack of respect for the consultation process and local people. Furthermore they have an irresponsible blasé attitude to where the water will come from over the next 60 years

An update of the mains water requirement written in response to the Stage 3 Consultation (29 March 2019) can be found here.

1 Sizewell C ‘threat to water supplies’, Beccles and Bungay Journal, 8 March 2010 (
2 East Suffolk Abstraction Licensing
Strategy, Environment Agency (UK), February 2013 (
3 UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017, Committee on Climate Change (UK), July 2016 ( page 2
4 UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017, Committee on Climate Change (UK), July 2016 ( page 4
5 Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1), Department of Energy and Climage Change UK), July 2011 (
6 Suffolk Sizewell C Ecology Principles, Suffolk Coastal Council, January 2014 (
7 Sizewell C Stage 1 Consultation Response, Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council, 30 January 2013 (


3 Responses to “Sizewell C 2nd Consultation: Mains Water”

  • Gwen says:

    Hi Peter

    Stage 3 consultation has arrived. Have you had a chance to check whether they have got round to mentioning their water requirements? I’m hoping it might be a show stopper or at least a nail in the coffin.

    • Pete says:

      We have contacted EDF before the consultation about the water requirements and they said that it would be covered in their Stage 3 consultation document. It was not. At the consultation exhibition at Saxmundham on Saturday we were told that it has been taken into account but could give no details. We are therefore going to chase it up again. Since we were told similar things at stage 1 and stage 2 we do not have a lot of confidence.
      Unfortunately there are so many things that should have been a show stopper for nuclear (Fukushima, strike price etc) that the last nail in the nuclear coffin should have gone in long ago, the coffin buried and we could get on with properly sorting out our energy needs with better efficiency and renewables.

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