Communities worried Sizewell C could bring them to ‘breaking point’
PUBLISHED: 15:19 24 January 2019
Community leaders have voiced concern that health, police and support services may “come close to breaking point” if a huge workforce descends on Suffolk to build the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station.
The worries were voiced during a top-level meeting to discuss how to respond to the latest plans for the twin reactor.
Transport, the methods for bringing in massive amounts of construction materials, and whether the area will be better or worse off once the station is built and in operation were among other concerns voiced during the Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG) meeting.
More than 100 people representing around 30 town and parish councils attended the event for question and answer sessions and round table discussions.
While people felt EDF Energy had taken on the feedback given by local communities at the Stage 2 consultation and provided much more detail at Stage 3 over mitigation and its proposals, there were still aspects that lacked clarity.
Elements of mitigation where further information would be beneficial primarily focus on transport and accommodation.
There was also a clear feeling that EDF Energy need to do more to try and make a marine-led strategy for delivering construction materials work as a preferred option, which some felt had been dropped far too eagerly.
There is a “strong feeling that local health, police and support services may come close to breaking point” with so many people coming to live and work in the area for such a concentrated period of time.
Other key areas raised by the community during discussions were:
● Pylons – Concerns about increasing number required and how / where they will be sited
● Design of station – Appearance of the buildings are not in keeping with surrounding natural environment, do not necessarily complement appearance of existing stations and there is concern that more buildings are proposed than are actually required
● Scale of construction – Concerns that EDF Energy has dropped the marine-led transport option for getting construction materials to site far too eagerly without thorough consideration and that the rail-led option may not be their next preference
● Economy – It is still not clear how much benefit will come to local population as a result of such upheaval, with so much disruption. Skilled jobs on site may well be at the cost of skilled labour currently at other local businesses which will struggle to recruit if they lose their workforce
● Transport – There remains strong support for SEGway (4 Village Bypass), including from both councils. Concerns continue in regards to the impact on existing road infrastructure which is close to capacity in many places
● Legacy – Will the area be left better or worse off once the station is built and in operation? There is concern that EDF Energy’s plans do not go far enough to give real long-lasting positive socio-economic positive impact
Local authorities say they are “very much in listening mode”.
JLAG chairman Geoff Holdcroft said: “Discussions were extremely valuable in learning more about specific concerns and local impacts that our community leaders have in mind and the sorts of things they are getting asked about by their residents.
“The feedback we received has helped to reinforce the views we are already beginning to form and these will be presented by each local authority through meetings in March before the end of EDF Energy’s consultation.
“Whilst the construction and operation of this nuclear power station may well bring a massive boost to the economy of east Suffolk, we need to make sure we get it right for our local communities.”
Suffolk County Councillor Richard Smith, Vice Chair of Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG) said: “I am extremely grateful for everybody’s participation at this event and welcome the views expressed on behalf of communities across east Suffolk. Both local authorities are very much in listening mode and we are committed to reflecting the local views we hear when it comes to the time for us to put our recommendations for feedback forward to our respective cabinet meetings in March, as part of EDF Energy’s consultation.
“In order to help us form our final view on this proposal, we are clear that we must see how the advantages of building a new power station like this at Sizewell outweigh the disadvantages. At present we are not convinced.”