Sizewell: Group blasts ‘lack of consultation’ over N-plant

Sizewell C impression Sizewell C impression

Thursday, May 8, 2014
10:28 AM

Developers of a third nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast have been accused of ignoring the wishes of people living near the proposed site.

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A group established to represent communities surrounding Sizewell has criticised EDF Energy for its “apparent contempt for the local environment and the concerns of its people”.

The Sizewell Parishes Liaison Group (SPLG) - made up of councillors from 24 neighbouring parishes and towns - plans to call an urgent meeting with local leaders to voice concerns over a perceived lack of consultation from the French firm on a range of issues.

In a letter published on its website, the group revealed it would consider petitioning local residents to support claims that the planning process for Sizewell C has been “woefully inadequate”.

But an EDF spokesman has assured the community they are listenin to feedback and that responses to the Stage 1 consultation will help inform the next stage of consultation due later in the year.

The first stage came to a close last February, with further interim consultation on the estimated £14billion project due to begin this year, when EDF has promised to provide more detail on transport, accommodation, environmental information and the design of the power station.

It follows the firm’s announcement last autumn that it had chosen preferred options for park and ride sites and construction workers’ accommodation.

Uncertainty remains over issues like transport – including whether or not a bypass will be built for villages on the A12 – but feedback from the second stage of consultation, the firm argues, will inform full proposals.

When the SPLG stages its annual general meeting later this month, it will underline the major areas it feels have not been satisfactorily addressed.

Secretary Malcolm Blakeney said: “The SPLG is not against there being a nuclear power station at Sizewell. What it wants is to see the least amount of upheaval for people who live in the area.”

Among the group’s major concerns are a lack of information on road and rail links, materials brought in by sea, and the impact of an entire workforce living in one location just outside Eastbridge. It is also concerned about the possibility of flooding, emergency planning and pressure on local health facilities.

In the SPLG’s letter to local town and parish councils, it says: “Many local people are now truly alarmed at the direction the project seems to be taking, with the prospect of massive environmental damage, no meaningful infrastructure investment and an apparent contempt for the local environment and the concerns of its people.”

The SPLG is due to call an urgent meeting with its MP, MEPs, and the district and county council, in order to raise its concerns.

Andy Smith, Suffolk Coastal’s deputy leader and chairman of the Joint Local Authorities Group (JALG) said it was essential for the public to be able to understand and influence the project. He added: “We sympathise with SPLG’s frustration at the current lack of information in the public domain, but are still using every opportunity to put local concerns to EDF Energy.

“We look forward to comprehensive information being available in the forthcoming Stage Two interim consultation, and will work with local communities on responding to that.”

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said she also welcomed the extra consultation phase and hoped further details would come forward soon. She added: “I understand concerns about EDF not fully addressing concerns from residents and I made that point at the recent community forum of which the SPLG are part.

“I have been in communication with various groups and residents about the proposals for Sizewell including the B1122 Action Group which I met recently.”

Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s head of roads, planning and transports, said: “SPLG is raising many of the concerns that the county and district councils included in their response to the first round of consultations on EDF’s proposals last year.

“We know that EDF is working on a response to the majority of these issues, but we haven’t seen an outcome as yet. We are always keen to understand the views of local communities on the proposals.”

EDF Energy continues to consult widely on plans for Sizewell C and has  offered to attend any meetings the  Sizewell Parishes Liaison Group  holds in order to provide regular updates on the project. 

We would encourage the SPLG to maintain an open dialogue as we can help with questions their members may have.

Nuclear energy has been generated on the Suffolk coast for nearly 50 years and EDF Energy continues to take a leading role in the stewardship and conservation of the 630 hectares of the AONB which it owns.

We are proud of our track record and we are working hard to find ways to mitigate as much of the impact from the construction of Sizewell C as possible and to regenerate the AONB both during and following the construction phase. It is worth remembering that Sizewell C would provide 7% of the UKs electricity needs and save 10million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.

The time that has passed since Stage 1 consultation has been filled with careful analysis of the responses received from the public, engagement with individual parishes and community groups, regular discussions and workshops with local councils and technical studies, including transport assessments, environmental research and design, engineering and construction. We continue to discuss local employment, skills and education issues with the local authority experts and details on this, and other important issues, will emerge during stages of formal public consultation and well before we submit a Develop Consent Order application to the Planning Inspectorate. We are taking the time necessary to provide the details the public wish to see.

We have kept the community updated on activity through regular newsletters, meetings, presentations and the Sizewell C Information Office in Leiston, which is open to the public every weekday. As the project has progressed and early thinking on park and ride and accommodation campus site options has emerged, we have reported back to the community.

One of the main requests raised during Stage 1 consultation is that a further stage of formal public consultation should be included in our consultation programme so the community can be further informed by the latest details on the project.  During the community forum held in March the Sizewell C project team announced that this new stage of public consultation would indeed be launched later this year. By providing more information on transport, preliminary environmental information and the various associated development sites, EDF Energy hopes the community will be able to provide more feedback and help shape its final proposals.  The feedback from Stage 2 will help inform full and detailed proposals which will be presented during a third stage of consultation in 2015. 

Tom McGarry, head of communications for Sizewell C, said: “Developing the plans for the proposed new nuclear power station in Suffolk is a lengthy process but we would like to assure the community we are listening to their feedback. 

“The responses to Stage 1 consultation and the ongoing technical studies will help inform the next stage of consultation which will be held later this year. 

“The investigative work for the development continues apace with over one hundred boreholes carried out across the areas proposed for the campus, construction area and rail routes, which took over 5,000 man hours to complete; to a total depth of 1,312m and produced 30 tonnes of core samples.

“These samples are being analysed to help inform engineering studies.

“Residents and local community groups indicated that they would like to see more details at the next stage of formal consultation, and that is what we are working on to provide.

“At the community forum in November we said that the development site option for an accommodation campus for non-home based workers is the likely but not definite location for such a facility.

“We understand the concerns of the immediate local community and we need to work together to address these concerns just as we also have to consider the feedback from all respondents to the Stage 1 consultation.”‬

Anyone interested in the project who wants to raise a point should call the Sizewell C Information Office on 01728 833891 or drop-in Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm.

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