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Energy projects on Suffolk coast 'could hit tourism and result in 400 job losses'

PUBLISHED: 10:23 25 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:33 25 September 2019

Fears have been raised that Sizewell C and ScottishPower Renewable's plans could cost the local tourism economy millions Picture: EDF

Fears have been raised that Sizewell C and ScottishPower Renewable's plans could cost the local tourism economy millions Picture: EDF

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Up to 400 jobs could be lost due to the impact on tourism of major energy projects on the Suffolk coast, research has claimed.

The Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation (DMO) says Sizewell C and ScottishPower Renewables plans could cost the visitor economy between £24-£40million a year.

The figures come in a report carried out by research group BVA BDRC in collaboration with the DMO, ahead of the proposed nuclear power station and onshore infrastructure for wind farms.

Energy giant EDF, behind the plans for Sizewell C, says its plan will instead provide a boost to the local area.

A survey of 1,700 people as part of the research found 64% of those asked said the developments would deter them from visiting Suffolk, adding that Suffolk's tranquil coast is its greatest asset.

The survey suggests that significant investment would be needed to mitigate impacts, protect existing markets and the coast's positive image.

What do those concerned about the projects say?

Harry Young, chair of the DMO, said: "The survey's findings are deeply concerning.

"As the marketing body promoting the sector we believe it is essential that tourism businesses, stakeholders and politicians at a local and national level are aware of the damage these projects could cause to an essential part of the county's economy.

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"The headline figures, whilst significant, don't tell the whole story, as most tourism businesses operate on tight margins in a challenging and competitive sector. Losing even 5% of their turnover could be very damaging for many of our members. This could lead to job losses as businesses would have to adjust to cope with reduced demand. The research tells us this may result in at least 400 full time equivalent jobs being lost in the area.

"Whilst we recognise the UK's need for renewable energy we simply cannot ignore the risks to this sensitive geography, which is so reliant on tourism."

Dr Andy Wood, chair of East of England Tourism and CEO of Adnams Plc, said: "The Suffolk Coast is one of the jewels in the crown of the East of England visitor economy.

"Customers tell us that they value above all else the peace and tranquillity of the place. Two delicate eco-systems are at work here. The first and most obvious is the natural environment, second is a small business led economy where any loss of business could have a significant effect on individual businesses and damage the uniqueness of the Suffolk experience."

What did EDF Energy and Scottish Power have to say?

EDF says a survey has shown construction of Hinkley Point C in Somerset has not affected visitor perception or business confidence.

A spokeswoman said the station would bring £100m per year during construction and £40m every year of its 60 year operation.

She added: "We are working with key organisations, including local authorities, Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation, Visit Suffolk and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to understand the local tourist economy and Sizewell C's potential effects and we will work with them to put appropriate mitigation measures are in place - including a potential Tourism Fund - that could support the area's tourist economy."

A Scottish Power Renewables spokesperson said: "As a responsible developer, minimising the environmental impact of our projects is really important to us and we're working hard with all our stakeholders to do just that.

"Our projects will bring investment and jobs to the region - so far with East Anglia ONE, we've committed over £70 million to companies across the East of England, including multi-million-pound contracts with local suppliers.

"Offshore wind has a key role to play in the fight against climate change and our projects could provide enough clean energy to power hundreds of thousands of homes."

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