EDF urged to provide assurances on Sizewell C proposals

An artist's impression of Sizewell C

An artist's impression of Sizewell C - Credit: Archant

Energy bosses have been urged to reveal key details of their plans for Suffolk’s new nuclear power station when the long-awaited second stage of public consultation begins later this week.

Richard Smith, who represents Leiston and Aldeburgh at Suffolk County Council, said he was concerned EDF Energy’s Sizewell C proposals would be missing important information.

The company is set to launch stage two of its consultation tomorrow, when members of the public will be able to view latest proposals including new details on preferred transport options, workers’ accommodation and park and rides.

News of the consultation, which comes four years after stage one, was welcomed by politicians and campaigners earlier this month. But with many people concerned by the impact of the proposals, there were also calls for EDF to provide a “lasting legacy” for those most affected by its development.

Mr Smith has also stressed his commitment to pushing for the “best deal” for his constituents. However he has raised doubts EDF would provide enough detail and warned communities may be left with “masses of information” to digest when the full proposals finally become public in stage three. He said he shared concerns over the consultation period, which, like stage one, falls over Christmas and New Year. “We were very disappointed about that,” he added.

Despite his concerns, Mr Smith stressed how important it was for people to take part in the consultation. Key aspects he said he would press for include the creation of a new road, leaving the A12 south of Saxmundham to the site, so as to avoid the “wholly unsuitable” B1122.

Mr Smith said SCC had costed the road at around £15m, which, given the benefits of the £16billion project, is the “very least EDF can do”. “I put that as the starting point for the community benefits,” he added.

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He has also warned of the potential “social problems” posed by the accommodation campus housing more than 2,000 workers, highlighting the high levels of prostitution and drug use that Leiston suffered during the construction of Sizewell B in the 90s. “We’ve had some vague assurances from EDF that they will tackle the social problems but I’m not sure the plans are robust enough,” he added.

Mr Smith said he was pro-nuclear power and acknowledged the importance of Sizewell C in providing power for five million homes, however he said Leiston and the surrounding villages could “suffer hugely” unless EDF handles the project properly. “There are a whole raft of things that EDF will need to give assurances on,” he added.

Other groups calling for assurances include bypass campaigners, the Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group, which is concerned about the accommodation campus and people living close to potential park and ride sites The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Partnership said it expected EDF to “avoid, mitigate and offset any potential damage” to the landscape.

EDF said feedback from the earlier consultation had allowed it develop a preferred a position on some “key elements” of the proposals, while other parts remain as options. Jim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director, said: “We have introduced this further stage of formal public consultation to give the public an opportunity to see how our plans have developed and to help us shape them further before a final stage of consultation. We understand it has been some time since we published our initial proposals for feedback, so I would like to encourage people to look through the latest plans for Sizewell C, to visit one of the exhibitions and to take the opportunity to have their say in the development of the project.”

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