Power projects could bring decade-long traffic nightmare for A12 communities
- Credit: Archant
Villagers who fear they are facing more than decade of construction lorries passing their doors to and from Sizewell C and a massive electricity substation site are to make a final plea for a bypass.
Under the current plans, Farnham and Stratford St Andrew will see a £30million-plus A12 bypass built to protect their communities, already suffering from poor air quality from traffic.
But people living at Marlesford and Little Glemham, who believe the A12 is already “wholly inadequate”, are deeply disappointed they will miss out – because no extra funding is available for a four villages bypass.
Tonight East Suffolk Council (ESC) will discuss the basis of its response the Planning Inspectorate over the formal plans put forward for the twin reactor nuclear power plant at Sizewell.
Council leader Steve Gallant wants to hear all councillors’ views but council leaders admit there are still a lot of unanswered questions over many topics concerning the £20billion development and its impact.
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Community leaders in Marlesford and Little Glemham want the district council to ask for the new bypass designed so that in future, if funding becomes available, it could be easily extended to cover their communities. Current designs do not allow any “join-up” to create a four villages route.
Commenting on the design of the Two Village Bypass, Richard Cooper, lead for Marlesford on Sizewell C issues, said “The route chosen by EDF no doubt achieves their objective in the cheapest way possible, but it condemns Marlesford and Little Glemham to having their own traffic problems ignored.”
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He said the Two Village Bypass alignment at its southern end, where it re-joins the existing A12, takes it away from the route proposed by Suffolk County Council for the Suffolk Energy Gateway known as SEGway. That makes it unlikely that all four villages can be ever be bypassed.
Lord Marlesford, chairman of Marlesford Parish Council, wants East Suffolk to reword their response to the Planning Inspectorate to keep open the prospect of the Four Village Bypass.
He said: “The quality of life for residents living along the A12 in Marlesford and Little Glemham will deteriorate over the likely 12 year Sizewell C build period.
“We anticipate greatly increased pollution, noise and vibration from HGV vehicles. For many of the older residents, the impacts will be felt for the rest of their lives – that is a sad prospect and an unacceptable cost for those who live in this part of East Suffolk.”
He has argued for a Four Village Bypass since the mid-1980s and now was a golden opportunity to deliver the project if local and national government could find the funds to match the EDF contribution.
He said: “We really expect our local councils to push for this once in a lifetime chance – future generations living along the A12 will not forgive us if we miss it now.”
Mr Cooper said, assuming both projects get consent, Sizewell C construction will be taking place at the same time as Scottish Power Renewables’ Friston substation project. He said: “At peak construction, the cumulative impact is likely to be an extra vehicle every 30 seconds using the A12 through Marlesford – it will have severe impacts on our everyday use of the main road.”
In a report to today’s council meeting, Craig Rivett, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development, said: “The council has always been supportive of a bypass for Stratford St Andrew and Farnham, we would have preferred a full four village bypass but funding from government for this was not forthcoming so the council is satisfied that the two village bypass proposed by EDF Energy/SZC Co will address the priority concern with regards to the existing Air Quality Management Area at Stratford St Andrew and the pinch point on the network at Farnham.”
EDF says its research shows there will be a need for a two villages bypass but does not believe one for all four villages is justified.
Traffic impact on communities will be just one of the issues debated tonight. They include concerns over noise, lighting, the impact on the environment – especially its ecology – and air quality, and tourism which it is feared will suffer.
ESC says its aim should Sizewell C be approved, is to achieve “the best possible outcome by virtue of maximising benefits, minimising adverse impacts, and achieving mitigation and compensatory measures for the district”.
Opposition councillors from the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent Group (GLI) though will tonight press for the administration to be bolder in its response to plans for Sizewell C.
An amendment will be proposed by the group recommending that council rejects the nuclear power station project.
Councillor David Beavan, from the GLI Group, said “For such a significant infrastructure decision for the area, it’s absolutely vital that we are firm in stating that Sizewell C doesn’t add up on many levels and should simply be rejected. We have grave concerns as a Group that currently, the proposed response to the Planning Inspectorate is weak and simply accepts that Sizewell is going to happen.”
“There are other opportunities down the line to talk about mitigation or special packages if it comes to that, but it is a crazy starting point to infer a reluctant acceptance that this hugely controversial project will simply go ahead. I expect more from our administration, and I think the communities we all represent deserve a better response to Government by their local council.”
Councillor Rachel Smith-Lyte said: “The influence we have today is a legacy for our future generations and we must not waste it. As councillors representing the communities who will be most affected by the decision on Sizewell, we must reflect their concerns in the council response, not simply roll over for Government and expect that we have no influence on the outcome.”
East Suffolk Council says it has long supported the principle of a new nuclear power station at Sizewell and welcomes the jobs and huge investment in the economy, and mitigation benefits, the project will bring.
The council will submit its response to the Planning Inspectorate by the end of the month.