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Battle to defeat 'pure might' of developer will be 'uphill struggle', Sizewell C opponents warned

Richard Cuttell speaking at the public meeting in Theberton in opposition to Sizewell C, with Bill Turnbull listening. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Richard Cuttell speaking at the public meeting in Theberton in opposition to Sizewell C, with Bill Turnbull listening. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

ANDREW PAPWORTH

Diehard opponents to plans to build a nuclear power station on Suffolk's coast have been told they face an "uphill struggle" against the "pure might" of developers to defeat the plans.

Richard Cuttell speaking at the public meeting held at St Peter's Church, Theberton over Sizewell C. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTHRichard Cuttell speaking at the public meeting held at St Peter's Church, Theberton over Sizewell C. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

The stark warning came from the chairman of a group which unsuccessfully opposed a similar plan by EDF Energy in Somerset, after he travelled eight hours to tell people what life could be like if the proposed Sizewell C is built.

Richard Cuttell, chairman of the West Hinkley Action Group, told a public meeting that people could face "noise pollution, traffic disruption and the deterioration and destruction of roads" if EDF Energy's vision to build the plant next to its A and B stations is approved.

The firm believes the plan, which is currently going through its fourth round of consultation, is crucial to meeting the country's future energy needs.

It says that while it recognises people's concerns over the impact on roads infrastructure and the environment - particularly sites of scientific special interest (SSSIs) at Minsmere - it has put in place plans for relief roads and wetland habitats to mitigate the effects.

Residents gathered outside at the public meeting held at St Peter's Church, Theberton over Sizewell C. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTHResidents gathered outside at the public meeting held at St Peter's Church, Theberton over Sizewell C. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

EDF Energy also points to the huge job opportunities Sizewell C could open up, both in construction and the longer-term.

Asked at the meeting on Saturday what opponents needed to do defeat EDF Energy's plans, Mr Cuttell's advice was to "question everything and keep fighting", adding: "You need to put in as much effort as is humanly possible."

Speaking to this newspaper, Mr Cuttell also said opponents are "going to have to realise the complexity of the process".

He said campaigners would benefit from strong specialist knowledge and legal representation to make sure their views are heard.

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However he said: "I think it's an uphill struggle because of the pure might of EDF, its public relations team and its financial backing.

"They will throw everything at the process to ensure permission is given."

The difference between Hinkley Point and Sizewell, he said, is that Suffolk has many more SSSIs which could be affected by the plans.

Television presenter Bill Turnbull, who chaired the public meeting at St Peter's Church in Theberton, said Mr Cuttell's assessment of what life is like living near to a major nuclear power station "made me feel pretty sick".

But he told this newspaper: "I still think there's a chance we can stop it.

"It comes down to the government at the time and money - and it comes down to the amount of noise we can make and the awareness we can raise nationally.

"Even if I thought there was no chance, I'd still be here.

"We carry on until the last day because we love this place."

An EDF Energy spokesman said: "We encourage local people to continue to meet with us, to share their views and take part in the consultation for a new power station in Suffolk.

"Our aim is to maximise the huge benefits in jobs and skills for local people, especially the young, whilst minimising the environmental impact of the project."

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