Protesters plan to seek a ‘call in’ after go-ahead to fell wood for Sizewell C
- Credit: Archant
Campaigners have attacked a decision which will cause the “premature destruction” of a century-old woodland as appalling and unacceptable.
Coronation Wood will now be chopped down to make way for Sizewell C - even though the proposed new twin reactor nuclear power station has not been given the go-ahead yet.
The application from EDF Energy, part of major changes to the Sizewell B estate needed for Sizewell C's construction, generated a huge number of objections.
However, it was approved by East Suffolk Council's (ESC) strategic planning committee by nine votes to eight.
Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council, supported by a number of other parish and town councils, will now ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to "call in" the application and consider it for a planning inquiry.
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Paul Collins, of Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell, said: "We strongly oppose ESC's decision to approve this application when the DCO request for Sizewell C has neither been submitted nor approved. If Sizewell C does not go ahead - and there are many reasons why it might not, including uncertain financing and major environmental obstacles - the AONB will have been needlessly damaged."
Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) said decision would mean "premature destruction" of the wood.
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Chairman Pete Wilkinson said: "To approve this application so far in advance of a protracted process which may well see approval for Sizewell C denied is pre-emptive and irresponsible.
"To be prepared to sacrifice a much-loved historic landscape feature and buffer such as Coronation Wood and to further infringe the AONB months in advance of the development consent order being submitted, let alone approved for Sizewell C, is inexcusable. It demonstrates a contempt for the many objections submitted from NGOs and individuals from a wide area, many of whom see Coronation Wood as a well-loved feature of the Sizewell landscape."
Suffolk Preservation Society director Fiona Cairns said: "This decision fails the most basic test of planning policy and probity. The wanton removal of a century-old wood is unacceptable in itself. The fact that this destruction might turn out to be unnecessary should Sizewell C not go ahead, shows the planning system in its worst light. You can't replace 100 year-old trees overnight."
Stephen Brett, Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council Chair said: "We will now ask the Secretary of State to call this application in, in order to ensure there is proper consideration of how these proposals will damage a nationally designated area which is adjacent to other protected wildlife habitats of both national and international importance."
The proposals would remove Coronation Wood and up to 50% of Pill Box Field in order to make space for the construction of Sizewell C. Even so, EDF would have only 32 hectares available to accommodate the massive twin reactor project, which at Hinkley Point is occupying 45 hectares.
EDF says the work on the Sizewell estate needs to be carried out now ro the development of Sizewell C is not delayed.
The project will create a new visitor centre which would also involve resiting large parking areas and moving other buildings as part of changes at Sizewell B and preparations for the planned twin nuclear reactor project.
It says new buildings, including a training centre and outage store, and car parks, will be set within a framework of retained woodland and areas of new planting.
In a report to councillors, case officer Lisa Chandler, energy projects manager, said while 229 trees would be felled, 2,500 new ones would be planted to bring long-term benefits to the landscape near the power station.
She said: "Many have questioned the prematurity of this application and that the works are not necessary until Sizewell C is committed to be constructed. These are legitimate concerns, however, the backstop position provided for in the planning application is that for the vacated land to be restored to AONB quality landscape should the Sizewell C station not be consented in the future."