Felling of Suffolk wood set to go ahead despite large number of objections
- Credit: Archant
Community leaders are being recommended to approve major changes to the landscape to allow Sizewell C to be built – despite a huge number of objections.
The proposals include felling of the century-old Coronation Wood.
EDF Energy wants consent for the project now before Sizewell C is given the go-ahead so that the work can be carried out ready and development of the new nuclear power station is not delayed.
But the application has received strong objections - including from Suffolk Preservation Society, Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council, Aldeburgh Town Council, and Theberton and Eastbridge, Middleton and Kelsale parish councils, along with Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and Together Against Sizewell C (TASC).
Natural England has raised concerns and the RSPB has lodged a holding objection.
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There have also been 113 letters of objection.
Objectors says the plans are as "premature" and should be decided as part of the Sizewell C consent. They claim the work would unnecessarily destroy woodland which currently hides the power complex and harm an area of outstanding natural beauty, and put at risk wildlife such as badgers, water voles, bats, birds and reptiles.
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EDF wants to 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.
TASC secretary Joan Girling said: "What is truly astonishing is that just a few days ago East Suffolk Council (ESC) declared a Climate Emergency. Yet their planning department then recommend approval of a plan involving destroying the 100 year old Coronation Wood, badger setts and a part of the unique Sizewell Belts SSSI.
"One wonders if the officers of different departments talk to one another.
"The only hope now is if the elected members take notice of the large numbers of well-considered objections from members of the public, local town and parish councils and leading conservation organisations against this proposed wilful destruction of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, all for the benefit of EDF who neither have planning, regulatory and licencing consent for Sizewell C nor the funds available or a finance package in place to build it."
ESC's strategic planning committee on September 9 is recommended to approve the work.
In a report to the committee, 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.
She said: "Aerial photography evidence shows that the wood has been halved in size since 1945 and it is evident that it has been somewhat neglected and many of the plantation trees (conifers) have reached the end of their useful sustainable life - it is not considered appropriate to place the blame for this solely on EDF Energy's shoulders as the neglect began prior to their taking ownership of the site.
"If the wood were to be retained, many of the trees would decline in quality and be susceptible to windblow, and the wood would therefore need replanting, thus beginning to disconnect from its cultural / historical origins."
She added: "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. Therefore, there is limited additional loss of AONB resulting specifically from this planning application - the additional loss resulting will be compensated for by EDF Energy through financial payment."