Dozens of protesters gathered at the gates of the Sizewell B nuclear plant in Suffolk on Friday, as outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged £700 million towards the building of a new nuclear power station on a nearby site. 

Speaking during a visit to Sizewell, Johnson said we “need to pull our national finger out and get on with Sizewell C,” blaming past Labour governments and the Conservatives’ former coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, for opposing new nuclear plants. 

The £700 million is part of a £1.7 billion pot for developing new nuclear projects to their final investment stage. A final decision on funding will be made by the government next year, with the government and French state-owned nuclear firm EDF each taking a 20 percent stake in Sizewell C. Meanwhile, bankers at Barclays have been tasked by Whitehall with finding additional investors to make up the rest of the financing. While the total cost of Sizewell C is estimated at £20 billion, forecasts produced by the University of Greenwich suggest this could balloon to more than double and cost £43.8 billion.

It also faces a legal challenge from campaigners over planning permission given by the government in July despite concerns expressed by the Planning Inspectorate about the project. Johnson’s announcement has been condemned by CND, Stop Sizewell C, Together Against Sizewell C, Greenpeace, and CND Vice-President and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “Johnson’s announcement, made just days before he leaves office, will do nothing to solve either the cost of living or energy crisis.  Not only will this station bleed vital funds from the public purse at a time of growing financial insecurity, it diverts away from investment in genuine renewables that are clean, safe, and sustainable. CND calls on Liz Truss to break away from this ill-conceived strategy and to develop a practical plan to ensure the country’s energy security.”