Bypass 4 the Villages: Frustrated council chiefs urge ‘joined up approach’ to A12 bypass

Four Villages Bypass campaign

Four Villages Bypass campaign - Credit: Archant

County chiefs have sent a strident message to developers of Suffolk’s proposed third nuclear power station over a long-anticipated but yet realised A12 improvement scheme.

Roads and planning bosses repeated calls for EDF Energy to provide “sufficient information” for a thorough review into the impact of Sizewell C, insisting: “We are not going soft on the four villages bypass.”

Suffolk County Council (SCC) said it was still awaiting evidence from the company to justify proposals for a third power station on the coast near Leiston - and vowed to “leave no stone unturned” in its efforts to address the needs of Farnham, Stratford St Andrew, Little Glemham and Marlesford.

The council’s transport chief Graham Newman joined Andy Smith, chair of the Sizewell C Joint Local Authority Group (JLAG), and spatial planning manager John Pitchford in espousing the need for a “joined up approach” towards ending decades of single-lane traffic misery between Wickham Market and the Friday Street junction at Benhall.

Despite EDF carrying out its own analysis of the impact on traffic from Sizewell C, the council has commissioned a separate study to assess all possible routes for bypassing the villages.

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It has approached the New Anglia Local Economic Partnership (LEP) - a multimillion-pound strategy to help equip the future workforce - for a cash contribution towards addressing the issue. The impact of traffic on the B1122 between Yoxford and Leiston will also be investigated.

Mr Pitchford said: “Waiting on EDF to produce evidence of traffic movements has not helped us. We commissioned a consultant to see how else we might make it happen over time.

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“We recognise the strategic importance of the road - and also the B1122.

“We are not going soft on the four villages bypass. We are trying to look at a pragmatic way of making it happen.

“Sizewell C offers us the impetus. If Suffolk is doing right by the nation, we want the nation to do right by Suffolk.”

The EADT has been calling for improvements to be made to the stretch of road since launching the Bypass 4 the Villages campaign.

In 2012, EDF estimated that the station would see between 100 and 300 HGVs a day arriving during peak construction - increasing traffic along the A12 south of Sizewell by only 5-15%.

At the time, EDF said it was not enough to justify a major bypass around all four villages, but did propose improvements at Farnham, including bypassing traffic from the bend in the middle of the village.

A spokesman said the firm was aware that SCC had commissioned its own transport study. He added: “At present, EDF Energy is progressing through a detailed analysis of the traffic impacts from the potential construction of Sizewell C. Once we have concluded this process, we will consult local residents and the local authorities on the outcomes and our resulting proposals to limit the impact of our construction traffic, which will be in line with planning policy guidelines.

“This is a lengthy process but we hope to begin the next stage of formal consultation later this year. It is also important to emphasise that we are aiming to maximise the use of sea and rail transport to reduce the impact of Sizewell C construction traffic on local roads.”

Mr Newman said: “We felt the four villages bypass was necessary and that the proposals made by EDF were not sufficient.

“We recognise that there are other reasons for having the infrastructure. We still believe it is important to have a bypass for the villages, but the question is whether we can do it all in one hit.”

Mr Smith said: “Sizewell will only add to the importance of having a strategic route.

“A dual carriageway must get past Stratford St Andrew as well as Farnham, especially as the area south of the petrol station is now a quality management area. There is a demonstrated air quality problem that will only get worse.

“We don’t want to be critical of EDF. Partnership working, we feel, is the way to go.”

The second stage of consultation into Sizewell C is due to take place this year, with developers hoping to get consent for a new £14billion twin-reactor plant on land next to the existing Sizewell B station.

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