By Craig Robinson
Thursday, November 22, 2012
COMMUNITIES living in four villages on the busy A12 last night vowed to continue their fight for a bypass in an attempt to end decades of traffic misery.
MAJOR rail improvements are planned to try to ensure as much of materials needed for Sizewell C do not have to arrive on Suffolk’s already-congested roads.
The freight-only Sizewell branch from Saxmundham station on the East Suffolk line is likely to be extended to the construction site.
The actual route of this extension has to be decided – the shortest route would come off the existing line in Leiston but there could be a longer extension avoiding the built-up area of the town altogether.
At the height of construction four or five trains a day could be travelling to Sizewell – sharing most of the route with passenger trains on the East Suffolk line.
Because the line is more intensively used than in the past, EDF will pay for a new passing loop to be built at Campsea Ashe, which will also need the restoration of the second platform that was demolished in the 1980s.
EDF will also look at whether it needs to improve the four level crossings on the Sizewell branch – at present they have to be opened and closed by a second crew member on the infrequent freight trains that take used fuel from Sizewell A.
If there are more trains, safety rules could require modern crossings to be installed.
As well as rail, heavy equipment for the power station is also likely to be brought to Sizewell by sea – as happened during the construction of Sizewell B.
A new jetty would be built on the coast allowing the heaviest equipment to be rolled straight off ships – however unlike the temporary jetty created for the construction of Sizewell B, elements of this could be retained permanently because it might occasionally be necessary to bring in heavy equipment.
It had been hoped that EDF Energy would finance the project around Marlesford, Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew and Franham as part of its proposals for a new Sizewell C nuclear power station.
But the company has said that this cannot be justified as traffic along the A12 south would only increase by only 5-15% should the development go ahead.
Instead it has put forward three options: building a short 1km bypass at Farnham to remove traffic from the tight bend in the middle of the village, widening the road at that point to enable easier access or installing HGV traffic controls.
Residents living in the four villages have been campaigning for decades in a bid to get a bypass, a project that was axed at the eleventh hour in 1996.
THE construction of Sizewell C is likely to generate thousands of jobs and be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the local economy.
EDF Energy say the project will generate £100m a year during construction and £40m a year thereafter.
Meanwhile they also claim that during the lifetime of the construction period some 25,000 on-site employment opportunities will be created.
At its peak the construction site workforce would be around 5,600 people, while other jobs would also be created off site via the supply chain and through increased economic activity in the area. Meanwhile during operation of the power station there will be around 900 permanent jobs available.
The company has also said it will create an employment brokerage service to support local people looking for work at Sizewell C - with a particular emphasis on the unemployed.
Bosses have pledged to work in partnership with schools, colleges, training providers and local authorities to help develop education programmes and ensure Suffolk has the skills required to support the construction of a new nuclear power station. This would include a focus on apprenticeships in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths.
Angela Piearce, head of the Sizewell C project, said they would work to build long term sustainable skills for future generations.
“Many of the skills required during construction would be transferrable, opening up the opportunity for further employment once Sizewell C has been built,” she said.
She also said they had been working closely with Suffolk and Norfolk chambers of commerce to provide opportunities for local businesses to supply their goods and services - with 80% of these related to “non nuclear” activities.
To register an interest in becoming a supplier or for more details visit www.sizewellsupplychain.co.uk.
Jacci Churchman, who lived on the A12 at Farnham for 30 years before recently moving closer to the village church, said a full bypass was the only solution.
“Widening the road is a ridiculous idea because if you do that then you would have to knock down houses - and then you wouldn’t be left with any village at all,” she said. “Similarly, traffic controls have tried and failed. We had some signs put up a little while ago and one of those has already been knocked down and not replaced.
“The only sensible solution is for a four village bypass. We all have the same problem. I know EDF have said HGV journeys won’t increase that much - but what about the workers? Those that don’t live on site have got to come from somewhere. When Sizewell B was being built we had huge lorries coming past. I can’t see that there won’t be an increase in traffic.”
Peter Norris, who lives on the notorious “Farnham bend”, described the proposal for traffic controls as a “non starter”. “We have tried that before and it just doesn’t work,” he said. He also said he would “fight tooth and nail” to prevent the road being widened and people losing their homes.
“A complete bypass would be the first choice in an ideal world,” he said. “There is not a decent road in the whole of east Suffolk - the journey times between Ipswich and Lowestoft are laughable. It’s desperately needed.
“However in the current economic climate we need to do something that’s achievable and maybe the four village bypass isn’t. In which case a bypass for Farnham might be the best solution. Farnham is the sticking point - that’s where two HGVs just can’t pass each other.”
Peter Chaloner, chairman of Little Glemham Parish Council, said he was disappointed that a full bypass was not included but regarded the initial proposals very much as an opening of negotiations. “I don’t think anyone realistically thought they would offer it without a fight,” he said.
Lord Marlesford, chairman of Marlesford Parish Council, said it was decided a long time ago that a “piecemeal” bypass was the wrong thing to do. “The chancellor and the secretary of state for transport have said they want to find shovel ready schemes to improve Britain’s infrastructure - this is an ideal moment for the four villages bypass.”
Richard Mayson, director of planning and external affairs, nuclear new build, at EDF Energy, said all views would be taken into account during the public consultation.
“We are looking forward to talking to people in the local communities in Suffolk and with other stakeholders about our proposals,” he said. “I urge everyone to play an active role in this consultation process. We are committed to giving your feedback serious consideration and will take it into account as we prepare detailed plans for Sizewell C.”