Postcard from Sizewell

Visit Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast and you cannot fail to spot the most enormous and incongruous view from the beach. No, I don’t mean Maggi Hambling’s “Scallop” at the north end (which is wonderful and fascinating) nor the Martello Tower at the Slaughden end (which is also wonderful and fascinating). No, I’m referring to the Sizewell nuclear power station near Leiston just up the coast. According to Wikipedia: “Sizewell is a small fishing village in the English county of Suffolk, England. The population of the village is included in the civil parish of Aldringham cum Thorpe.” It sounds delightful, picturesque, timeless…

Sizewell is, of course, the location of two separate nuclear power stations, the Magnox Sizewell A and Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) Sizewell B. Sizewell A is being decommissioned and stopped electricity generation in 2006, B is still operational (1200 megawatts) it was initially planned to be decommissioned in 2035, but there has now been a twenty year extension to its life. A third reactor, which would imaginitively be called Sizewell C has been discussed and led to inevitable controvery and sloganeering along the lines of “Sizewell: Twinned with Chernobyl and Fukushima”. The second stage of consulation on C is yet to take place and final investment decisions will probably not take place until Hinckley Point C in Somerset is under construction.

You don’t have to visit Aldeburgh to see Sizewell, it’s also very much in evidence looking south along the coast from the bird reserve, RSPB Minsmere from where this photo was taken.