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Sizewell C: Suffolk County Council under fire over N-plant consultation

12:00 19 February 2013

An artist

An artist's impression of the proposed Sizewell C

A SENIOR county councillor and one of the leading opponents of Sizewell C have clashed over an alleged lack of community consultation prior to the local authority’s decision to support the project in principle.

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Pete Wilkinson, a Suffolk environment consultant and former member of a Government radioactive waste watchdog, has accused the county council of adopting a “cavalier and contemptuous” attitude towards the public and other organisations and of contravening its duty to consider all views.

The only formal report read by county councillors before they made their decision was a “flawed” Government study entitled: The Role of Nuclear Power in a Low Carbon Economy, he said.

However, Guy McGregor, chairman of a joint county and district council task force examining the Sizewell C plans, said councillors had a good appreciation of the views of the local community through engagement with town and parish councils and other organisations.

“In essence the need for new nuclear in a mix of energy supplies had already been determined by the Government,” he said.

“We recognised the reality of the situation and did not want to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the rights and wrongs of this policy.

“Our job is to get the best deal we can for Suffolk.”

But Mr Wilkinson claimed the county council had never sought the views of Suffolk people.

“It represents a cavalier and contemptuous attitude to the views not only of other organisations and bodies but also, and more alarmingly, to those of the constituents the council claims to represent,” he said.

County councillors had failed to study reports of documents which offered different perspectives or alternative views, he added.

“To have listened to a range of views would have allowed the council to satisfy its obligation to demonstrate objectivity and, more importantly, to have arrived at an informed and balanced view rather than one which is stems from a narrow base and which is supportive of a deeply-flawed government policy,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“I find it extraordinary that a county council should restrict the views it considers when deciding on its policy towards such a massive and invasive development to one Government document,” he added.

Mr McGregor said the county and district councils had offered to hold meetings with protest groups and had taken on some of their concerns.

But anti-nuclear campaigners had not been invited to community engagement meetings in order to prevent them turning into “pro and anti debates”.

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