Sizewell C traffic could be an 'enormous gamble' with air quality – artist
PUBLISHED: 19:29 24 March 2019
A Suffolk artist believes the go-ahead for Sizewell C would be an “enormous and dangerous gamble” with the county’s air quality – which could impact the lives of thousands of people.
At a recent exhibition in Woodbridge, Fran Crowe, whose art often reflects her deep concerns over the environment, invited people to donate air to those in need of better air quality and produced boxes of Sizewell Scud to help people imagine the air they will be breathing during construction of the nuclear power plant.
She says the work – which also includes an air raid kit including an air calculator – is tongue-in-cheek but seriously researched.
Despite the sea air and open countryside, she has found air quality in Suffolk poor over the past 20 years of living here – her son and partner now suffer from asthma and she has suffered from chronic bronchitis.
In her concerns about Sizewell C, she highlights the huge amount of extra traffic there will be if a road-led strategy is adopted for delivery of materials – including up to 1,500 lorries a day, 5,000 car journeys to and from park and ride sites and the buses to transport workers, plus travel for campus-based employees.
Fran said the implications of traffic would affect a much wider area.
She said: “It will have huge implications for those living, working, studying or playing in the A12 corridor, not least in Woodbridge and Martlesham where no mitigating measures are planned, yet 85% of traffic is forecast to come from the south. This will go right past Farlingaye High School and its playing fields. Pupils will be at particular risk when taking part in sports and when travelling to and from school.
“Although the A12 can currently be busy at peaks times, the proportion of HGV traffic is currently very low. But the council’s own air quality report for Stratford St Andrew states that, although HGVs currently only account for 6% of traffic flow on the A12, they alarmingly already account for 53.5% of nitrous oxide concentrations.
“The impact on air quality of Sizewell construction traffic, both in view of its quantity and type of vehicle will therefore be enormous, especially when the traffic is not free-flowing, for example in the rush hour, or when traffic backs up as a result of the movement of extra wide or long loads.
“Diesel HGVs and other traffic will greatly increase nitrous oxide and particulates pollution in this area, which in turn will increase the incidence and severity of ground level ozone pollution across the region.
“We in East Anglia could be about to become the latest guinea pigs in the government’s gamble with air pollution. I believe that Sizewell C is a hugely important test case to see if the government really is serious protecting people from the ill-effects of air pollution.
“Worse still, the impact of Sizewell C construction traffic will be exacerbated by other major infrastructure projects that may also be happening during the same time period: for example, construction of Scottish Power East Anglia wind farm infrastructure and the Saxmundham garden village.
EDF Energy, as part of its environmental impact assessment work to inform the development of its proposals, and understand the potential significant effects of the Sizewell C project, has undertaken extensive monitoring campaigns of the area around the proposed development sites, and along the key transport routes to understand what the existing conditions are with respect to air quality and noise. This work is continuing, and is also being supplemented by monitoring the councils have undertaken in some areas along the proposed transport routes
An EDF Energy spokesperson said: “Preliminary air quality assessment work identifies that generally the ambient air quality in the region is good, and the additional construction vehicles for Sizewell C will not give rise to levels that would result in exceed the National air quality objectives.
“There are some locally designated Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in the region where existing pollutant levels are already high (including Stratford St Andrew); however, preliminary assessments indicate that with existing plans in place to improve the local air quality, the additional Sizewell C related vehicles will not have a significant effect.
“This work is still ongoing, and subject to further modelling and engagement with the local authorities to better understand the effects, and to ensure the local air quality improvement plans are not compromised.”