'Significant concern' over coastal tourism if Sizewell C approved
- Credit: EDF ENERGY
The construction of large-scale energy projects on the coast is of "significant concern" to Suffolk's tourism industry, a Planning Inspectorate hearing on Sizewell C has heard.
EDF Energy's proposals to build a £20billion nuclear power station are being discussed in a four-day public hearing.
Katherine Mackie, chairman of the Aldeburgh Society, told the hearing on Thursday a study had revealed that more than four million tourists visit the area every year, bringing in more than £160million to the economy.
That number rose to £228m for the wider Suffolk Coast and Heaths area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) in 2019 with around 5,000 jobs supported, she added.
Mrs Mackie said the figures would be "significantly impacted due to the loss of defined AONB characteristics".
She also cited research by the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation, which found that construction of the Sizewell C project - as well as ScottishPower's proposed windfarm off the Suffolk coast - could reduce visitor numbers by 17%.
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Mrs Mackie told the hearing: "Visitors cite the beach, the character of the high street and the quality of the surrounding countryside as the major reasons for their visit.
"The process of construction of these facilities risk damaging the whole economy and social fabric of our town.
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"The cumulative of these major energy projects, with all their converging timelines, will simply be too hard for our fragile area to bear."
Adam Rowlands, representing the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said the Minsmere nature reserve - directly north of Sizewell - regularly attracts 125,000 visitors a year.
But he warned the economic benefits RSPB Minsmere brings to the economy would also take a hit if Sizewell C is approved.
Mr Rowlands said: "Disruption to access and transport and noise and other forms of disturbance may reduce people's propensity to visit.
"The potential loss of income to the RSPB, as well as the loss of income locally, is of significant concern."
A spokesman for EDF told Thursday's hearing the the energy firm would submit documentation addressing concerns to the Planning Inspectorate.
In March, independent researchers estimated that the Sizewell C project would bring a £2bn boost to Suffolk's economy and create 24,000 jobs in the construction phase.
The government will make the final decision on whether the plant can be built.