Sizewell C early works take shape

By Marjorie Barnes | Published on 14 February 2023 | 3 min read

Early work across the Sizewell estate is continuing to prepare the site for construction of the new power station, which is anticipated to start in 2024.

Ecologists are overseeing the activity to ensure that wildlife is able to disperse naturally into surrounding habitat or is re-homed in replacement habitat that has been created over many years.

On the small area of the Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) needed to construct Sizewell C, reeds will be cut back in the coming weeks to deter nesting birds and provide access through to the south bank of the SSSI crossing where construction will start following the final investment decision. Wet woodland will also be cleared in the seasonal windows to ensure wildlife is protected.

The maximum area of SSSI that will be required for the construction work associated with the power station is less than 6 hectares, the remaining 95% of the SSSI is being protected and managed for wildlife.  Replacement habitat was created at Aldhurst farm in 2014 and further compensation habitat will be created at sites near Benhall, Halesworth and Pakenham over the next few years, starting at Benhall in a few months’ time.

On Goose Hill an area of woodland will be cleared to make way for the access route through to the north bank of the SSSI. The majority of the trees which will be cleared include mature Corsican Pine, Scots Pine (planted circa 1960) and some semi-mature Pine trees – none of which are indigenous to Suffolk. Our work here will start this winter and continue through to spring, avoiding nesting birds.  Works will also avoid badger setts until new artificial setts have been established and strict protocols will be followed to protect bats. This work will all be undertaken in accordance with protected species licences from Natural England and overseen by an Ecological Clerk of Works.

Two permissive paths within the Goose Hill will need to be closed to the public for safety reasons.  The popular Sandling’s Walk, bridleway 19 and other permissive paths within the estate will remain open at this stage.

Next to Sizewell B, work on relocating three buildings to Sizewell C main site platform area will continue. A new entrance road has been established along with the underground network of pipes facilitating the utilities for a new visitor centre, training facility and administration.  Main contractor Barnes Construction from Ipswich is now on site and the buildings will start to rise in the months ahead.

Archaeology work has now been completed at the new wetland habitat creation area near Lower Abbey Farm to the north of the temporary construction area, with important finds recorded for storing in Suffolk County archives.  The specialist team are ready to move onto the main development site following vegetation clearance in Goose Hill.

Dr Stephen Mannings, DCO Environment Lead for Sizewell C, said: “The work we are doing now has been designed around the sensitive environmental conditions we are facing, particularly in the SSSI. We have spent years creating important replacement habitat, such as at Aldhurst farm, where marsh harriers and water voles are thriving.  We have a team of ecological experts who will oversee the work and programme it around the relevant seasonal windows for the different species affected to ensure they are protected in accordance with strict protocols agreed with Natural England.”

Posted by Marjorie Barnes

The Sizewell C comms team brings you news, updates, blogs and information on the Sizewell C project.