Sizewell power station visitor centre approved

Sizewell nuclear power station has been granted planning permission to open a visitor centre on the north Suffolk coast.

EDF Energy, which owns Sizewell B, applied to Suffolk Coastal District Council for permission to create a temporary visitor centre in an existing mobile cabin to the north of the site near Leiston.

The previous centre was closed following the 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA. The building will be used for the next four years, with plans to replace it with a permanent state-of-the-art, interactive centre if plans for a �6bn Sizewell C plant go ahead.

EDF Energy said it could attract between 7,500 and 10,000 visitors a year, with tours mainly organised for schools and educational groups.

This development is part of the company's scheme to improve public accessibility at its eight nuclear power stations across the UK. Jim Crawford, Sizewell B power station director, said: 'EDF Energy is committed to improving the transparency and openness surrounding our nuclear operations.

'Sizewell B attracts massive public interest, with its iconic design, and we welcome the opportunity to be able to show people how we generate safe, low-carbon electricity for more than two million homes.'

The new centre, located next to the plant's training centre, will feature a new glazed extension, with entrance to the building along the existing access road to Sizewell B.

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Costing �500,000 project is scheduled to open in October, and job adverts have been circulated for guides to take visitors round the site. Mr Crawford added: 'Since we announced our plans, we have been inundated by requests from people keen to learn more about our station.

'This visitor centre will allow us to introduce people to our operation at Sizewell B power station in a safe, informative and attractive environment.'

The visitor centre will usually be open on weekdays, with most pre-booked tours designed for schoolchildren aged 11 and up. However, members of the public will be able to attend by appointment and subject to vetting by the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Visitors will be given an introductory talk about how the station operates, before being taken on a guided tour through selected parts of the plant.

It is understood no visitors will be allowed inside the area containing the nuclear generating plant, reactor cooling systems and control room.

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