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EDF Energy urged to rethink Sizewell C workers’ accommodation plans after report highlights environmental concerns

PUBLISHED: 18:22 26 July 2017 | UPDATED: 18:27 26 July 2017

Members of the Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell, B1122 Action Group and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group, pictured earlier this year near to EDF Energy's proposed site for an accommodation complex. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Members of the Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell, B1122 Action Group and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group, pictured earlier this year near to EDF Energy's proposed site for an accommodation complex. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Sarah Lucy brown

Proposals for an accommodation complex housing 2,400 power station construction workers in Suffolk have been criticised in an independent report – with energy bosses urged to rethink the plans.

Campaigners with protest banners outside Endeavour House before Suffolk County Council's cabinet meeting at which Sizewell C's latest consultation was discussed. Picture: GREGG BROWNCampaigners with protest banners outside Endeavour House before Suffolk County Council's cabinet meeting at which Sizewell C's latest consultation was discussed. Picture: GREGG BROWN

EDF Energy’s preferred site for the Sizewell C campus, near Eastbridge and Minsmere, is said to have “significant cumulative environmental impacts and limited legacy potential”.

Commissioned by Suffolk County Council (SCC), the report highlights possible alternative locations, near Saxmundham and Leiston, as well as splitting accommodation across several sites, which it says “appear more positive” than EDF’s proposal.

Boyer and Cannon, which produced the report, found EDF should look again at other sites “as part of a comprehensive approach to providing a wider ‘accommodation strategy’.”

The report highlights the site’s closeness to the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB and Minsmere.

It said EDF had not given the “full impression” of the “dramatic impact” its plans would have on the site. The report said it was “highly unlikely” the site would have any future benefits.

The alternative sites considered for a Sizewell C accommodation campus. Picture: BOYER AND CANNONThe alternative sites considered for a Sizewell C accommodation campus. Picture: BOYER AND CANNON

SCC, which published the report today, has called on EDF to rethink its plans. The council had already objected to the proposals in its response to stage two of EDF’s Sizewell C consultation.

Richard Smith, who has a special responsibility for Sizewell C at the council, said: “The county council has not expressed a preference on any of the sites assessed, but we are calling upon EDF to undertake wider appraisal of options for development of a campus, to take into account wider issues affecting communities and the environment and to publish a clear justification of any position they take.”

Campaigners are also hoping the report may lead EDF to consider alternatives. Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell C said it welcomed the suggestion to split accommodation across several sites and agreed with the environmental concerns.

“However, we are disappointed the report has not looked at bigger urban settings further afield that offer more infrastructure and which could benefit from legacy opportunities,” it added. “We trust that EDF will heed the call for a more in-depth analysis of alternative sites.”

The B1122 Action group also agreed better options were possible. However, it expressed disappointment the report had not investigated how an alternative relief road could work alongside the accommodation plans. It said this could have been a “win win solution as thee of the report’s alternative accommodation sites are near the proposed relief road.

An artist's impression of Sizewell C power station. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARYAn artist's impression of Sizewell C power station. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

‘We will have regard to all feedback received’

EDF Energy said in a statement: “We have developed our plans for Sizewell C with the aim of minimising the impact of the construction of the proposed station on local communities.

“We are working to reduce the potential pressure on local roads caused by our workforce by building a temporary accommodation campus for up to 2,400 workers.

“We believe a single, high quality, on-site accommodation campus where a significant proportion of workers can stay has significant benefits in terms of reduced car journeys on local roads and wider worker management, including helping to mitigate the impacts of large groups of construction workers on small rural communities.

“We will have regard to all feedback received, including responses to the stage one and two consultations as well as the report issued by SCC, in developing our proposals for the stage three consultation.”

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