Suffolk MP backs Sizewell C as deadline for ‘interested parties’ passes

Therese Coffey MP for Suffolk Coastal. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Therese Coffey MP for Suffolk Coastal. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Suffolk MP Therese Coffey has backed the construction of Sizewell C but said that significant changes need to be made in order for the planning application to be accepted.

The Conservative MP was commenting on the plans as the deadline for people who want to apply to become “interested parties” passed at the end of September.

During the statement, Dr Coffey said that energy giant EDF, who are behind the project, should look to minimise the number of lorries coming to and from the plant

She said: “Tackling climate change and ensuring we have enough electricity as we phase out fossil fuels is vital to the success and sustainability of this country.

“Nuclear power as a zero-carbon energy source is a key part of the energy mix and Sizewell is an important nuclear cluster, generating electricity before the area was designated an AONB in 1970.

“The economic gain from a project the size of this would be really positively felt - with the creation of thousands of jobs including well-paid, long term jobs - but changes need to be made even at this stage to get my full support.”

She added: “I do understand people’s objections though and the impact it will have on our area. Mitigation against all of these impacts is absolutely key.”

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The comments come as the deadline for parties to register their interest in Sizewell C passed.

The Planning Inspectorate those registered “will have an opportunity to make a written representation about the application when the examination begins”..

In her comments, Dr Coffey addressed transport as one of her biggest concerns.

She said: “I still think EDF need to bring in much more material by non-vehicular means.

“Due to the prevalence of the road-led strategy and no proposals for a passing loop to increase capacity on the East Suffolk line, a large portion of the rail freight will be received at night.

“Adversely impacting the residents of Woodbridge, Melton, Saxmundham and to a certain extent, Leiston, before the new branch line is built into the construction site.

“I have asked the examining authority to challenge this.

“If the passing loop isn’t constructed, then they need to condition further mitigation to reduce vibration and noise.

“For example, requiring welding and lubrication to the track to reduce vibrations and train screech, sound barriers and a need for quieter rolling stock.”

One of the ways EDF plan to mitigate the number of lorry journeys to and from the Sizewell plant is to create a two-village bypass around Stratford St Andrew and Farnham.

Dr Coffey added: “I do support the Two-Village bypass protecting the villages of Stratford St Andrew and Farnham, which will be a significant legacy benefit.

“I also support the construction of a new Sizewell Link Road to take the pressure off the B1122 and the communities of Theberton and Middleton Moor.

“I have suggested that this should be removed on the completion of the project though.

“A permanent road in that location would have a detrimental impact on the landscape and have no legacy benefit.”

This week Adam Rowlands, RSPB Suffolk Area Manager said he was “extremely worried” about the impact the project could have on wildlife in the area.

However Dr Coffey said she was “keen” to see Sizewell C stand out as an “environmental exemplar”.

She said: “It is essential that we protect our precious landscape. Many people have commented that the site is within the AONB but that was the case prior to Sizewell B.

“Despite that precedent, as the Defra Minister responsible for the 25-year Environment Plan when it was published, I’m keen to see this scheme stand out as an environmental exemplar with EDF contributing to nature recovery as well as just mitigation.

“The examining authority need to look carefully at whether the experts at Natural England and the Marine Management Organisation are satisfied that the measures submitted are enough – in particular to ensure the safe protection of places like Minsmere and Sizewell Marshes.”