‘Outraged’ Sizewell activists demand further changes in final consultation
- Credit: Archant
Campaigners have been left furious over the latest plans for a new nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast – and say EDF Energy is still not listening to residents’ concerns.
The construction of the Sizewell C twin-reactor is expected to cause widespread disruption with concern over hundreds of trucks using unsuitable roads, the impact on the local economy and worries over the effect on RSPB Minsmere.
A main concern is the use of land near Eastbridge for a campus for 2,400 workers which campaigners say are “substantially unchanged” from early designs.
What problems do residents have with the plans?
Alison Downes, co-chairman of Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS), was furious at the lack of consideration being taken of the villages as EDF clamours to start construction.
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“We are outraged at the creation of a new temporary town – with only very minor adjustments – for 2,400 workers at Eastbridge, which we believe will exacerbate the threats to Minsmere, a national treasure,” she said.
“With EDF in such a rush to get on with this project, and so desperate to save money by using the supply chain from Hinkley Point, it seems even less likely that the predicted benefits to east Suffolk will outweigh the costs and impacts.”
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Starting today both the energy giant and the grassroots resistance hit the campaign trail with their roadshows, talking to residents in affected villages about the good and the bad of the billion-pound investment.
The first stop is in Leiston, 11am-5pm on January 5.
Minsmere is one of Suffolk’s most beautiful AONB and special area of conservation and protection.
Paul Collins, TEAGS co-chairman and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group co-secretary, accepted EDF expanded their environmental impacts and is still assessing the documents.
Mr Collins added: “We remain extremely concerned about the potential impacts on Minsmere.
“Three fields near Eastbridge are earmarked for quarries and spoil heaps and EDF still hasn’t conducted vital studies, including on Health and Community Impacts.
“EDF claims that the project will bring £100m a year into the local economy, but we believe there will be a significant detrimental loss of tourism income, currently worth £250m each year.”
The east Suffolk road network had already been flagged as a cause of major concern too, with the B1122 to Sizewell a road deemed not fit for the purposes EDF wished to use it for.
An alternative - a bypass of Theberton - will now we built to spare one village of hundreds of daily lorry journeys.
But neighbouring towns like Yoxford - with a particularly vulnerable junction where the A1120 and A12 meet - will still be on routes to the Sizewell construction site and potential tailbacks.
Charles Macdowell, leader of the B1122 Action Group, said: “We have always argued for a proper link road, so the fact that one is at last an option is progress – although the route is far from ideal.
“The other option of a token mini-bypass of just Theberton does nothing for the residents of Middleton or Yoxford.“
Unhappy with the options EDF have set out, Middleton parish councillor Roy Dowding described the consultations as “choosing the least worst option”.
What have EDF said?
Announcing their latest plans this morning, EDF claim they have made significant changes from previous proposals.
The guaranteed bypasses of Theberton, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham may still be added to with a further link road to avoid Middleton Moor.
Plans to build a jetty for regular deliveries by sea have been scrapped to preserve the Minsmere AONB.
And reductions to the square-acre size and height of buildings on the workforce campus will protect the views and privacy of nearby residents.
Jim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director, said: “We want to build more than a power station, we can see from Hinkley Point C that nuclear new build will be a force for good and deliver social, environmental and economic benefits in Suffolk and across the East of England.
“We encourage people to come along to one of our exhibitions or to pick up a copy of the consultation document at their local library or our office in Leiston.
“It is important to us that people share their views on the latest proposals for Sizewell C and help shape the plans.”
The last changes will be made to EDF’s plans for Sizewell C before its submission to planning authorities.
EDF have been approached for a response to these concerns.
What changes have been made to the workers’ campus coming to Eastbridge?
The Eastbridge campus proposal has undergone minor changes since the last consultation, with no buildings over five storeys and greater landscaping to make the complex more in-keeping with the countryside.
Those against the development of the greenfield site say that EDF does not appear to have responded to work which explored options for split-site campuses - which could have been purposed as housing after construction.
In Somerset, for the Hinkley Point nuclear development site, worker campuses in Bridgewater are laid out to be instantly usable for new housing once the campus is no longer in use.
TEAGS co-chairman Alison Downes describing the development as “a temporary town”.
EDF have said that their latest proposals goes further than any previous designs to accommodate the local community.
The energy company is proposing establishing a housing fund to enable local authorities to take early measures to mitigate against potential impacts of Sizewell C on the local housing market.
By putting the campus in Eastbridge they also hope to contain traffic, reducing the impact of construction on local roads.
Where will I be able to see the latest plans?
EDF will be taking their proposal around Suffolk for comments from the public.
Travelling to each town with them will be the activist groups presenting ‘Sizewell Concerns’ - a counter-demonstration detailing what they want to see changed before construction begins.
The two can be found at:
Leiston, Saturday, January 5, 11am – 5pm
Theberton & Eastbridge, Monday, January 7, 11am – 7pm
Yoxford, Tuesday, January 8, 11am – 5pm
Darsham, Wednesday, January 9, 2pm – 8pm
Saxmundham, Saturday, January 12, 10am – 4pm
Middleton, Wednesday, January 16, 11am – 7pm
Southwold, Tuesday, January 17, 11am – 5pm
Aldeburgh, Friday, January 18, 1pm – 5.45pm