Woodland could be lost to make way for new nuclear power station
- Credit: Archant
Proposals for a major change in layout of part of the Sizewell B site have been criticised as “premature”, would unnecessarily destroy woodland and harm an area of oustanding natural beauty.
EDF Energy has put forward a detailed plan for creation of a new visitor centre which would also involve resiting large parking areas and moving other buildings as part of the preparations for the planned Sizewell C twin nuclear reactor project.
But Suffolk Preservation Society has lodged strong objections saying the plan is "premature and should not be considered in isolation" but should be part of the Development Consent Order for Sizewell C.
SPS chairman Andrew Fane, who questions whether the site is big enough to house the two new reactors, also claims EDF in its submission to East Suffolk Council has "seriously underestimated" the value of the landscape.
The society does not accept that the permanent effects of the nine-acre development - which includes chopping down a chunk of Coronation Wood - are very limited as they only impact upon a small part of the AONB, landscape which is nationally renowned for its tranquility and remoteness.
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He said: "The SPS strongly rejects the applicant's overall conclusion that the magnitude of effects will be negligible and that the proposed development will have minimal significance and on balance be neutral."
Mr Fane said the SPS was dismayed by the proposed development of Pill Box Field to provide a car park and the proposed Laydown Area on the western edge of the site will include structures up to 6m in height with 8m high lighting columns and 100 lux light fittings on the perimeter of the estate facing into the AONB.
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A proposed 576-space car park immediately to the south of Sizewell A will involve "substantial loss" of Coronation Wood.
Mr Fane said: "Furthermore, the loss of Coronation Wood is unacceptable as it provides a useful contribution to landscape and visual mitigation of Sizewell A and B, but also has
a communal and historic value as a commemoration of George V and Queen Mary's coronation in 1911. Its removal, in large part justified by its poor condition, fundamentally ignores the value that the wood has in the local consciousness and collective memory of the local communities of East Suffolk.
"In view of the hugely negative impact that the power plants have wrought upon the landscape in the last half century, the proposed loss of this belt of woodland planted at the beginning of the 20th century is an affront to all those who benefit from this landscape feature."
Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council has also objected to the plans.
The council said Coronation Wood provides valuable screening to the Sizewell A and Sizewell B, and suggested the wood should be restored and the area improved as a socio-economic project, rather than turned into industrial land and lost forever as a landscape feature.
The proposed Visitor Centre would be situated in a prominent position on the current entrance route into the Sizewell power station complex.
The new larger centre would include exhibition space; auditorium; classrooms for school parties; media centre / VIP area; refreshment area; office and associated conference room and an external viewing area.
EDF said the new buildings, including a training centre and outage store, and car parks will be set within a framework of retained woodland and areas of new planting. Seeking consent now and pressing ahead with the work would speed up the construction of Sizewell C.
The company takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and says it has completed a full Environmental Impact Assessment to accompany the planning application.