N-plant could revive bypass hopes

A LONG-promised by-pass for four villages in Suffolk could be given the go-ahead as a condition of building new nuclear power stations at Sizewell.Construction traffic for Sizewell will have to use the narrow and twisting A12 between Wickham Market and Saxmundham, adding to the misery of residents of villagers who have been battling for two decades to get a by-pass built.

Graham Dines

A LONG-promised by-pass for four villages in Suffolk could be given the go-ahead as a condition of building new nuclear power stations at Sizewell.

Construction traffic for Sizewell will have to use the narrow and twisting A12 between Wickham Market and Saxmundham, adding to the misery of residents of villagers who have been battling for two decades to get a by-pass built.

High level preliminary talks have been held between British Energy's chief executive Bill Coley and the county council to look at the implications for, and effects on, Suffolk if plans for one or more nuclear plants at Sizewell are given the go-ahead.

The route of the A12 by-pass for Farnham, Stratford St Andrew, Marlesford and Little Glenham was approved by the previous Conservative government, but construction was pulled at the last minute after a rethink on transportation strategy.

The county council took over responsibility for the A12 when the Department of Transport detrunked the road six years' ago, and the project remains in Suffolk's wish list of priority schemes.

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Councillors have now realised that funding the by-pass could be part of an agreement linked to the planning application by British Energy.

“If it is given the go-ahead, construction at Sizewell will not start for a number of years. But it would be a nightmare for the four villages if all the construction traffic has to trundle through them on the way to the site,” says Guy McGregor, the council's portfolio holder for transportation.

“It would be absolute madness not to build the roads. Suffolk has suffered from the poverty of the council's aspiration at the time of the Sizewell B public inquiry and that must not happen again.

“I will also be pushing for major improvements to the single track East Suffolk rail line and for passenger services to run again on the Saxmundham to Leiston route. In our meeting with British Energy, the importance of finding the right solution for the construction and operational phases was stressed and the need to promote the four villages by-pass scheme was highlighted.”

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer is fully behind the move to reach a planning deal. “I have told the Government that I support nuclear build at Sizewell ­­- but that backing is conditional on a by-pass being built to remove construction traffic from the villages.”

Farnham parish councillor Judith Spatchett said: “The extra traffic will be horrendous, not just from lorries during construction but also from cars carrying workers to Sizewell. A by-pass is needed before any work starts on the site - lorries cannot negotiate properly Farnham Corner now.

“The hundreds of heavy lorry movements each day will make quality of life in the villages intolerable.”

A spokesman for British Energy said: “We are aware of the county council's views on the subject and we agree that this is something that needs to be looked at.”

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