Sizewell: Public to be given extra say on Sizewell C options as additional consultation round announced

Artist's impression of Sizewell C

Artist's impression of Sizewell C - Credit: Copyright EDF Energy 2012 - Stag

Extra consultation is to be carried out with communities in east Suffolk over the proposals for the Sizewell C nuclear power station following public demand.

Borehole drilling as part of site investigations at Sizewell

Borehole drilling as part of site investigations at Sizewell - Credit: Archant

The aim is to give people the chance to comment on and discuss developing ideas for some of the key parts of the estimated £14billion project – especially preferred options for park and ride sites and the construction workers’ “village” – before they are finalised.

EDF Energy has already carried out an initial round of consultation and the next would have been the final statutory round before the application for an order for consent was made to the secretary of state.

Community leaders were told last night though that the company had decided to hold a third round of consultation – scheduled to take place this autumn – with the final stage sometime in 2015.

At present there is still no firm timetable for submission for planning permission.

Stephen Walls, EDF Energy’s head of the Sizewell C project, said the aim would be to make the consultation “readily digestible for the public” rather than being a detailed technical appraisal of the latest proposals.

Mr Walls said: “The decision to hold another stage of consultation is a direct response to feedback we have received from the public and we don’t think it will unduly delay submission of our consent order application.

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“We are very conscious that it is a long time since the step one consultation and a longer gap than we had at Hinkley Point between corresponding stages.

“We think it will be helpful and timely to provide an update on the journey we are going through for everybody as more details have become available and our options are being refined.”

In the autumn, EDF Energy announced that sites at Darsham and Wickham Market had been earmarked for the park-and-ride system, while farmland between Leiston and Theberton had been identified for a “campus’’ for between 2,000 and 3,000 workers.

These are currently the “lead sites”, and some other options have been abandoned.

Other issues, such as a new rail route, and the matter of possible highways changes – including whether a bypass will be built for villages on the A12 – have not been finalised with much research still to do.

Ground investigative work is also taking place. The first phase of boreholes was carried out to the east of the B1122 and work is now taking place to the west of Leiston along the possible rail routes, looking at the geology and the ground water conditions.

Mr Walls felt the extra consultation would be appreciated by the public in general, as well as parish councils and other statutory bodies, and stressed that there was still time for people to influence the proposals outlined in the preferred options.

He said: “We hope it will be very much welcomed. It’s a response to demands we have had and will give everybody a little bit more time to assimilate the detailed information we will present and give their views on it. It is another good opportunity for the community to get involved in the project.”

Andy Smith, chairman of the Joint Local Authorities Group, welcomed the chance for local authorities and the public to take part in additional consultation and the further opportunity to understand and influence the project.

He said: “At this stage, we still await a lot of detailed information on the proposals from EDF Energy. We believe there is still a great deal of work to be done on nearly all aspects of the project, before the local community can have informed discussions about Sizewell C and its wide-ranging impacts.”

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