Suffolk MP explains opposition to Sizewell C nuclear plant plans
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk MP Dan Poulter has spoken of his opposition to plans for a new nuclear power station on the county’s coast – citing the impact on the environment and the substantial lack of road and rail improvements to cope with the 10-year construction of the project as his main reasons.
He is the first of the county’s MPs to speak out against the £20billion Sizewell C nuclear new-build project.
Dr Poulter, Conservative member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, is not a fan of nuclear power but feels it is a “necessary evil” as part of the mixed power base the country will need as it moves forward and to ensure a carbon zero energy industry – particularly as at present there is no storage solution for renewable energies such as wind and solar.
He also does not believe the plans for interconnectors with other European countries to import power are developed enough to meet the UK demand.
He said: “From a practical perspective, I am not overly enthusiastic about nuclear power and feel it is a necessary evil.”
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Dr Poulter accepted that the development by EDF Energy would also bring benefits with 20,000 to 30,000 jobs over the construction period, much needed to help with the post-Covid-19 recovery.
However, he has strong concerns over “significant problems” with the plans for the power station, which have been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for final approval.
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He said: “I don’t feel there is adequate mitigation in the plans to deal with the impact Sizewell C will have on a beautiful stretch of our coast, the habitats we have there and the species which live there, and the impact on that part of Suffolk.”
He also expressed concern over what he claimed was the “dismissive” way EDF had dealt with serious concerns voiced during the several consultations over the project about the lack of infrastructure.
“The decision has been to move away from using marine to bring in construction materials and opt for a land-based strategy of road and rail, but there has been very little consideration given to the infrastructure that needs to be in place, particularly on the A12 but also rail. There is a real opportunity to upgrade the East Suffolk line and leave a real lasting legacy,“ he said.
“I am particularly concerned about Wickham Market and surrounding areas. To put a park-and-ride there seems crazy because it is so far from the construction site for workers. It is an extraordinary thing and shows a complete lack of engagement and understanding of local traffic and local road layouts. I find that unacceptable.”
He felt for the disruption which would be caused for communities there should be some “very tangible long term legacy benefits” and it was “very disappointing” to not have these.
Dr Poulter has also expressed concern about the involvement of China in the project, which EDF has been developing with the state-owned energy company, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) – although EDF envisages Sizewell C to be a majority British owned company and it will be for Government to decide on the funding model.
He said it was for these reasons that he was “unable to support the current proposals for Sizewell C”.
An EDF spokeswoman said: “As a responsible developer, EDF is committed to minimising the impact of developing Sizewell C while we maximise the benefits for the area through jobs, skills, training and business contracts for local people.
“Environmental experts working on the project have fully assessed all of the relevant impacts of the proposals which is presented in an Environmental Statement which will be scrutinised by the Environment Agency and Planning Inspectorate to make sure everything is done to protect local environment.
“We have designed a transport strategy which integrates the use of sea, rail and road to reduce the impact of construction traffic. This combined with two temporary park and ride facilities and an accommodation campus will reduce the amount of workforce traffic on local roads and through villages. We are working closely with parish councils in Dr Poulter’s constituency on limiting the impacts of our proposals, such as the temporary park and ride site.
“Our aim remains steadfast to maximise the huge benefits this project can deliver and help tackle the climate crisis through the delivery of low carbon electricity.”
The plans include a two villages bypass on the A12 as well as a link road from the A12 near Yoxford to the construction site.