A12 campaign: Bypass bid gets ministerial boost

ENERGY giant EDF will be expected to pay for community schemes – such as a much-needed bypass for the A12 – if it gets the go-ahead to build a new nuclear power station in Suffolk, a Government minister has said.

The comments are a welcome boost to the EADT’s Bypass 4 the Villages campaign, which is aiming to end decades of traffic misery suffered by residents in Marlesford, Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham.

Energy minister Charles Hendry was visiting the potential site of Sizewell C yesterday as part of a whistle stop tour of the east of England.

The Government is still consulting on its preferred sites for new nuclear build, which were shortlisted at the end of last year, and the Conservative MP for Wealden was in Suffolk to take a closer look.

He met with bosses from EDF Energy - which has already said that it wants to build another nuclear power station at Sizewell subject to the right investment framework - and Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey.

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Mr Hendry said should the development be given the green light then energy bosses would be expected to make a financial contribution to community projects, which could include a bypass for the A12.

“We want to make sure that the communities that have these new facilities get the benefits in doing so,” he said. “The communities need to see real financial benefits.

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“What we do know is that EDF are good neighbours. Clearly with a new build some materials would come by road and some would come by sea. But these are issues to be negotiated between the local community and EDF.”

Many believe the best chance of securing funding for an A12 bypass – estimated at �56million in 2006 – is through EDF.

The energy firm has pledged to listen to villagers’ views should they be given the go-ahead to build a new nuclear power station and the main Ipswich-to-Lowestoft road will be top of the list of local priorities.

Speaking about the Sizewell site in general Mr Hendry said: “It’s a good chance for me to look at what is already here and an opportunity to talk to community groups and discuss any concerns or issues they want to raise. I can then get as broad a picture as I can of the issues.

“I think there is a great strength in developing reactors in areas where they already have experience and high skills and community understanding.”

Mr Hendry also said the east of England had a key role to play in the UK’s energy future, as off shore wind farms and gas supplies would grow in importance.

EDF bosses have estimated any new power station would be worth �100m a year to the local economy while it was being built and �40m a year thereafter, generating thousands of jobs.

Angela Piearce, head of off site development for Sizewell C, said consultation with members of the public could start by the end of this year.

“We are delighted to have the minister here to see the site,” she said. “Its great to show him first hand and talk about the potential development and what it means for the local area in terms of jobs and business opportunities.”

Anti nuclear campaigners have raised safety concerns about any new power station and also feel EDF should be investing more money in renewable energy such as wind power.

After visiting Sizewell Mr Hendry joined Waveney MP Peter Aldous at Gaoh Energy based at the Riverside Industrial Estate in Lowestoft, before moving on to the town’s Orbis Energy Centre and Eastport Harbour in Great Yarmouth.

To support the EADT’s Bypass 4 the Villages campaign fill in the coupon or sign the online petition at www.eadt.co.uk/bypass4thevillages.

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