Elections could mean late spring for next Sizewell C consultation

An artist's impression of Sizewell C alongside stations A and B.

An artist's impression of Sizewell C alongside stations A and B. - Credit: Archant

Unless the next round of consultation for Sizewell C starts in early January, it will not take place until after May next year.

Community leaders have admitted there is a “significant delay” in the consultation process, but have assured the public they are working hard on assessing the potential impacts of the new nuclear power station if it goes ahead.

EDF Energy is unable to say when the second stage of consultation – widely expected to give the final details of issues such as road improvements, worker accommodation and park-and-ride sites – will take place next year.

However, unless it starts in January, the exercise, expected to last 11 weeks, will not be able to take place until after the council elections in May, as councillors are not allowed to discuss any issues in the run-up to the polls.

Andy Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development at Suffolk Coastal, said: “It is unfortunately rapidly becoming clear that there could be a significant delay in EDF’s next formal stage of the Sizewell C process, the Stage 2 consultation. This can only add to the sense of frustration which I know is felt by the many communities and groups who have interests in the various aspects of the project.

“However, in the meantime, we and Suffolk County Council, within the Joint Local Authority Group, continue to work hard to research and understand ourselves, and to influence the thinking of EDF around, the many complex issues involved.

“Necessarily these discussions have to be on a confidential basis, in order that EDF can release information to us to allow meaningful involvement. Frustrating though it seems to others, I can assure you that we are doing a great deal of work to prepare ourselves to be able to inform and lead our own and others’ response to the Stage 2 consultation whenever it actually comes.”

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The council has also won funding from EDF to increase staff for its work on the project.

Mr Smith said: “We have recently allocated some funds from our economic development budget to undertake a study of possible economic benefits arising from enhancements to the A12 as a strategic sub-regional road to support applications for possible government funding to enhance the work which EDF will be required to fund, which we will be pursuing very strongly when the time comes.”

EDF has said before the stage two consultation takes place, everything has to be in place for Hinkley Point C to proceed – the final investment decision is expected this month.