EDF accused as Suffolk coast’s special landscape faces ‘devastating impact’ from Sizewell C
Condemnation of the way the Suffolk coast’s nationally designated and widely treasured landscape is treated in EDF Energy’s latest Sizewell C consultation has been delivered by the protected area’s managers.
The Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership – which includes more than 20 organisations – has revealed it is “extremely disappointed” that the consultation makes “minimal reference” to the designation of a sensitive, economically important, tourism-generating landscape that would severed for up to 12 years while the multi-billion pound nuclear power station was being built.It accuses EDF of seeking to minimise or “even perhaps undermine” the significance of the AONB’s designation.
Aspects of the project would have a “devastating impact” on the AONB’s views and character, the partnership says.It warns against an “off-the-shelf power station design” that would be a “lift and shift” from the Hinkley Point C nuclear project.
Many of the Sizewell project’s “significant impacts” on the wildlife interests in the neighbouring Minsmere-Walberswick Special Protection Area and Sizewell’s Site of Special Scientific Interest showed “no signs” of being able to be adequately mitigated. There was also potential for the “long-term” construction phase to have “significant residual impacts” on an AONB “well known for its dark skies, quiet walks and wildlife.”
In a strongly worded official response to EDF’s Stage 2 Consultation, the partnership says:”Not only does the consultation fail to identify the AONB effectively or clarify its sensitivities, it goes further and actively seeks to minimise or even perhaps undermine the significance of the designation in the design of the project or decision-making.”
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Partnership chairman David Wood told the EADT:”We are extremely disappointed with the way the AONB has been treated during the consultation process. The Government’s National Policy Statement for nuclear power generation notes the potential for long-term effects on visual amenity at Sizewell yet the consultation makes minimal reference to the nationally designated landscape.
“AONBs are designated for the nation, for their natural beauty. The consultation process does not appear to demonstrate how the proposals will impact upon the natural beauty and special qualities of the AONB. Indeed, many of the proposals no not appear to acknowledge that the development will be in a nationally designated landscape.”
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Construction for up to 12 years would “effectively cut the AONB in half,” he said. It would include closing the current route of the “iconic” Suffolk Coast Path, and the probable route of the England Coast Path. During construction spoil piles up to 35 metres high were proposed and a workers’ accommodation campus would include units of up to five storeys - such aspects would have a “devastating impact” on views across the AONB and on the area’s character.
Design proposals for the station and the construction work “do not appear to have acknowledged the damage to the AONB or assessed their impact on the area’s natural beauty, said Mr Wood.
He added: “The impact on the area’s tranquillity, wildlife interests and tourism economy do not appear to have been properly assessed and we would ask that EDF Energy undertake the work to assess the impacts upon the AONB before the next stage of consultation. If that work is undertaken the AONB Partnership, and others, may be able to make more informed comment on the development proposals and their inevitable impact upon the AONB during the construction and operation phase.”
EDF responded by saying: “EDF Energy has engaged with over 3,000 people and held 23 public exhibitions so far during the Sizewell C public consultation which runs until February 3.
“Stakeholders such as the AONB partnership are also represented on the Community Forum for Sizewell C to ensure they have full information regarding the latest proposals on the project. The community forum met on December 1, 2016.
“We will take the responses from all interested stakeholders and members of the local community into account when we are shaping our plans for the next stage of consultation.”