Energy company accused of ‘devious tactics over A12 bypass negotiations

Members of Farnham Environment Residents and Neighbours campaigning against EDF Energy's preferred b

Members of Farnham Environment Residents and Neighbours campaigning against EDF Energy's preferred bypass route Picture: SARAH MORGAN - Credit: Sarah Morgan

Villagers whose properties would be affected by a bypass included in Sizewell C plans, claim energy bosses are trying to pressure them into submission.

A group of households in Farnham claim EDF Energy's valuers have attempted to hold complex discussions over financial mitigation related to the new section of the A12 with little notice and no time to prepare.

Sarah Morgan, a member of the Farnham Environment Residents and Neighbours (FERN) group said it left many of her older neighbours feeling confused, pressured and ridden "roughshod" over.

EDF said it had appointed an agent to meet with people affected so it could understand concerns, mitigate potential impacts and, where possible, discuss a proposed "Property Price Support Scheme".

The company also said it was "listening to people regarding the route proposed and taking on board feedback received".

But Ms Morgan said the company's behaviour seemed "devious" and had left neighbours feeling "stressed and worried".

EDF is seeking to build a two village A12 bypass around Stratford St Andrew and Farnham so the road can cope with construction traffic if the nuclear power station goes ahead.

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Although people in the villages have been campaigning for a bypass for many years, to avoid the accidents, congestion and pollution they say has blighted lives, EDF's proposals have proved controversial.

Suffolk councils had pushed for EDF to help fund a four villages bypass, which would also have diverted around Little Glemham and Marlesford, but the company said it was not needed to mitigate construction traffic.

The route of the two village bypass has also proved controversial. Farnham and Stratford St Andrew Parish Council favoured a route to the east of Foxburrow Wood, which it said would affect fewer properties.

Parish councillor Richard Ayres said EDF had not listened and were just, "ploughing ahead" with their favoured route.

"They're doing the bare minimum," he said. "They've managed to find solutions to other problems. When it mattered to them, they went the extra mile. But when it's other people's lives, it's lower down the priorities list."

But Ms Morgan said the episode with the valuers was another example of EDF's alleged failure to consider local wishes.

FERN wants to meet the valuers collectively, so they can have legal representation and avoid making any decisions that could harm their position.

However, she claims the valuers have declined any joint meeting.

"Throughout this process, EDF have behaved as is they're ruling over their own personal fiefdom and they can act without impunity," she said.

"We feel very let down and it's as though no one is representing us."

An EDF spokesman said: "We are proposing a bypass of Farnham and Stratford St Andrew (a two village bypass) to reduce the traffic passing through the narrow bend at Farnham. We are listening to local people regarding the route proposed and taking on board feedback received.

"We have appointed local land agent Dalcour Maclaren who form a key part of the project team to meet with local people who may be affected by our plans.

"This is an important way for us to understand individual concerns so we can mitigate potential impacts where possible and discuss a proposed Property Price Support scheme."