MP urges EDF to put A12 'four-villages' bypass back on agenda under Sizewell C plans

A12 Little Glemham

Could the four villages' bypass going through Little Glemham be back on the agenda? - Credit: Archant

Energy giant EDF has been urged to do more to help get the A12 'four villages' bypass back on the agenda as part of its proposals for the development of Sizewell C.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dan Poulter has written to the boss of EDF, which hopes to build the new two-reactor power station on the coast, suggesting that a new offer to help fund the bypass could ease some of the opposition to the proposal locally.

A CGI of what the Sizewell C nuclear power station will look like Picture: EDF Energy

A CGI of what the Sizewell C nuclear power station will look like Picture: EDF Energy - Credit: Archant

EDF has offered to help finance a new two villages bypass to ease traffic in Farnham and Stratford St Andrew, but Dr Poulter has been a long-term advocate of the longer option which would also take traffic away from Little Glemham and Marlesford, which are in his constituency.

He has also asked EDF to try to work more with Network Rail to reduce disruption to residents living on the East Suffolk railway line from freight trains operating through the night.

EDF and Network Rail have been talking about using the line to bring in materials since 2014. They would also use the freight-only branch from Saxmundham to Leiston and have proposed building a new spur into the power station site.

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.

Dr Dan Poulter hopes EDF could help salvage hopes of a Four Villages Bypass - Credit: Paul Geater

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The letter, sent by Dr Poulter to EDF Managing Director for Nuclear Development Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, also said that a ban on HGVs heading to Sizewell from small roads in the county should be extended to other vehicles.

Dr Poulter said: "When the Department for Transport rejected the proposed Four Villages bypass a couple of years ago, it looked like the end - but I feel there is a chance now to get EDF to consider using the money they have set aside for the two villages to support the larger scheme."

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His letter to EDF says: "The biggest issue, for many, is the achievement of a Four Village Bypass (4VBP) and I have asked the Leader of Suffolk County Council (SCC) to join me in renewed dialogue with the Department for Transport as I believe the backdrop to another push for national funding may have changed since SCC’s bid was turned down nearly two years ago.

"It would clearly assist any renewed lobbying if EDF would consider, at least, revising their contribution upwards so that it contributed to a greater proportion of the overall 4VBP cost than the amount earmarked currently for the 2VBP. This could count heavily in favour of any renewed effort made by SCC with whom, you note, EDF have worked collaboratively in the past on this matter."

Dr Poulter said it was expected that some of the materials for the power station would be brought in by sea to Lowestoft and driven to the site through along the northern section of the A12 and that was an issue that was being watched by Waveney MP Peter Aldous.

EDF has said it wants to use the rail connection to bring in many of the materials - but during the day there would be not be room to fit in freight trains because of the single-track section between Woodbridge and Saxmundham.

Although talks with Network Rail had started, there had been no decision made on introducing a new loop - possibly at Wickham Market station - and EDF had indicated that freight trains might have to run at night when there were no passenger services. 

Dr Poulter's letter says: "I am concerned that the contribution that rail might make is wholly focused on night haulage of freight and this will further increase the concerns of those who live near the line."

This week EDF formally submitted an amended proposal to the Planning Inspectorate which would see the number of lorry movements generated by the construction programme cut by 20% by switching more movements to rail and sea.

A spokeswoman for EDF said the company remained committed to the two-village bypass, a short stretch of road eliminating two sharp bends in Farnham and Stratford St Andrew, rather than the new stretch of road.

She said: "Sizewell C has recently submitted changes to its plans for a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk Coast after listening to feedback from East Suffolk and Suffolk County Councils, residents, MPs and other stakeholders.

"We are proposing a series of changes which include increasing rail and sea deliveries during construction to reduce the number of HGVs on local roads. These new proposals will mean 150 fewer HGVs on local roads on the busiest day over the peak construction period. 60% of materials will be delivered by sea and rail as a result.

"We fully understand the concerns about noise on the East Suffolk rail line and are investigating how this can be kept to a minimum through the use of continuous welded rail lines, the types of trains and their various speeds.

"We have proposed a two village bypass of Stratford St Andrew and Farnham for the Sizewell C project because it is appropriate for the additional amount of traffic that would be generated through the period of peak construction activity.

"The A12 does have the capacity to this point, particularly with the reductions we have made to HGVs through greater use of sea and rail."

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