'Still not good enough' - Suffolk councils say they can't support latest Sizewell C plans
PUBLISHED: 16:42 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:45 02 March 2019
Suffolk authorities have again rejected proposals for the county's new multi billion pound nuclear power station - telling energy bosses their plans are still not good enough to support.
Councils said they were frustrated by the lack of detail in EDF Energy’s latest Sizewell C consultation and urged the company to work with them to show the project’s benefits can still outweigh its disadvantages.
Responding to the consultation on Friday, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council said that while they support the principle of a new power station they were disappointed EDF Energy’s plans did not contain as much information as hoped.
EDF launched stage three of its consultation on January 4 including details of a two villages A12 bypass to mitigate the effects of construction traffic, a Theberton bypass, and a link road between Yoxford and Sizewell.
It also featured further details on the revised accommodation campus for 2,400 workers at Eastbridge, two park and rides in Wickham Market and Darsham and a freight management facility at Seven Hills, near Ipswich.
The £14 billion project is expected to create thousands of jobs and bring around £100m to the economy during construction.
But Suffolk councils say they have been left with grave concerns about the potential impact on roads, tourism and the surrounding landscape, which includes RSPB Minsmere and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, and claim much more information is needed to resolve their fears.
They were particularly concerned with the “in combination effects” of other projects proposed for the area, including ScottishPower Renewables’ plans for a large substation in Friston.
SCC councillor Richard Smith, vice-chairman of the Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG), said: “This is a very special part of Suffolk and to compromise that in the way they are planning, with a 10-12 year construction, is filling many local people with grave concern, if not horror.
“We need to do everything we can to mitigate some of that and yet we have not had enough detail.”
JLAG’s response highlights more than a dozen key concerns, including:
• Transport plans
• Impact on the AONB
• Ecological effect on RSPB Mnsmere
• Increase from 6,100-8,500 workers and the impact on housing markets
• How to deliver employment opportunities for local people
• Mitigating adverse socio-economic impacts
• How to create a legacy of benefits
JLAG chairman and SCDC councillor Geoff Holdcroft said transport was the “big one”.
“Our clear preference from day one was that we wanted to see the majority of material come to the site by sea,” he added. “So we are really disappointed they’ve ruled out the marine-led strategy and we want to see all the evidence why.”
Mr Smith said highways officers had been given “nowhere near the information they require” to test EDF’s road transport plans.
The councils raised particular concerns over EDF’s park and ride proposals for Wickham Market, which included possible improvements to a stretch of rural roads, including the single track Glevering bridge. Mr Holdcroft labelled the suggestion “absolutely bonkers”.
While the councillors stressed they had no power to force EDF to provide the information, they called on the energy firm to work with them to find ways to “avoid, mitigate or compensate” for the problems so that the “advantages outweigh the disadvantages”.
Having already requested more information, when responding to stage two of the consultation in January 2017, the councillors said there was “still much work to be done”.
Mr Smith said the communities he represented felt there needed to be a further stage of consultation, due to the lack of information proposed so far, though he admitted the councils had no power to insist EDF did that.
Although the final decision on whether the power station goes ahead will be made by the Planning Inspectorate, the councillors claimed their influence still carried weight.
Mr Holdcroft suggested EDF would be “foolish” to apply for permission without greater support from the councils.
An EDF spokesman noted the councils’ response and said the company was pleased they continued to support Sizewell C in principle.
“As recognised in the local authorities East Suffolk Business Plan, Sizewell C provides a huge opportunity for growing the East Suffolk economy,” the spokesman added.
“At the peak of the construction, some 5,600 people will be employed at the site, with 900 people employed when the station is operating. The high skilled, well paid jobs offered by Sizewell will provide a boost in skills, education and the local economy for years to come.
“We will continue to work with the local authorities and a wide range of partners to maximise the economic benefit Sizewell C offers the region.”
EDF Energy’s stage three consultation closes on Friday, March 29 2019. Visit its website to take part.