Sizewell C: Power giant EDF Energy needs to ‘wake up’ and fund bypass for A12, claim council chiefs
POWER giant EDF Energy needs to “wake up” and commit to building a bypass for the A12 as part of its plans for a third nuclear plant on the Suffolk coast, senior councillors claimed last night.
The demand comes as the East Anglian Daily Times re-launches its campaign to end decades of misery along the traffic choked route.
Leader of Suffolk County Council, Mark Bee, and the authority’s cabinet member responsible for roads, planning and transport, Guy McGregor, have both called into question the figures used by EDF in its transport consultation documents for the proposed Sizewell C.
The pair refute the company’s claims that a bypass around the four villages of Marelsford, Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham cannot be justified.
“EDF Energy needs to wake up and truly realise the scale of the impact Sizewell C will have in local communities in Suffolk,” Mr Bee said. “It therefore needs to take a long hard look at what it gives back to the community in return.
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“We are in no way convinced by their argument that a four village bypass isn’t needed. In fact, they’ve not backed up their view with any convincing evidence whatsoever.
“It’s time for EDF to take note of the strength of feeling on this critical issue.”
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Mr McGregor, who will meet with senior officials at EDF early next week, continued: “It beggars belief that EDF Energy could argue for a shorter bypass without publishing any robust traffic modelling data to base it on.
“The county council has been calling on EDF to publish what they have got since the consultation document came out. How can they possibly have come to such a controversial view if they are still examining the evidence? Building a bypass of this scale will take years, so it is imperative that EDF Energy do the necessary work now to avoid set backs. Otherwise this nationally-important project runs the risk of significant delays.”
Villagers in Marlesford, Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham have been campaigning for decades to secure a bypass around their narrow, single lane stretch of the A12.
The need for improvements along the main Ipswich to Lowestoft route has also been highlighted by MPs and business leaders.
The EADT first launched its Bypass 4 The Villages campaign at the start of last year and it had been hoped EDF might fund the project as part of its proposals for Sizewell C as some of the materials needed for construction would have to travel along the A12.
But in its initial plans for the development the company has said such a project cannot be justified as traffic along the south bound stretch would only increase by 5-15% should the plant go ahead, with most materials moved by sea or rail.
Instead it has put forward three options: building a short 1km bypass at Farnham to remove traffic from the tight bend in the middle of the village, widening the road at that point to enable easier access or installing HGV traffic controls.
“While these [traffic flow] estimates will be subject to further detailed work, it is considered that Sizewell C related traffic will not be of a scale which would be likely to cause major changes to traffic or environmental conditions on this stretch of road or justify a major intervention in the form of a bypass,” its transport strategy says.
Angela Piearce, head of Sizewell C development, said: “We are committed to an ongoing dialogue with local residents, community groups, the county and district councils about our initial proposals.
“The launch of Stage One consultation for the project has been a really useful way to meet with hundreds of local residents who have an interest in the project and are providing us with such useful feedback.
“EDF Energy’s initial transport proposals for Sizewell C outline three options to mitigate impacts the project may have on the A12 south of Sizewell, including an option for a bypass at Farnham.
“We welcome comments on our proposals as they will help to shape our plans for Sizewell C.
ALMOST 750 concerned residents signed up to the EADT’s Bypass for the Villages campaign after it was launched at the start of last year.
It calls for a firm commitment to build the road, which is expected to cost more than �50million and would run between Wickham Market and Benhall.
More than 18,000 vehicles currently use the main Ipswich-to-Lowestoft route every day, snaking through the four villages of Marlesford, Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham on a narrow, single carriageway.
The bypass project has stalled in the planning stage for more than 30 years, with a fully-agreed scheme axed at the eleventh hour in 1996.
Villagers say their lives have been made intolerable by rising traffic levels on the road, which has seen a number of serious accidents and near misses.
To support the campaign, fill in the campaign coupon or go to www.eadt.co.uk/bypass4thevillages.