Will the new Sizewell C be too large for the Suffolk Coast I love so much?
PUBLISHED: 05:52 02 February 2017
For most of my life I’ve been a supporter of nuclear power as a reliable green alternative to shoving carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, writes Paul Geater.
Sizewell power stations are an important part of the Suffolk economy and I could not see any reason not to build a third plant on the coast there.
However the sheer scale of what is being proposed and the impact it will have on the area is making me change my mind – and to question some of the underlying assumptions behind EDF’s case.
I have to declare an interest here. Although I’ve lived in Ipswich most of my life I was born in Eastbridge and was brought up in the Leiston/Saxmundham area.
Many of my ancestors are buried in Theberton churchyard and I can still remember being taken for walks to the village shops that existed there when I was a young child.
It’s part of the country that is very dear to me and I have family and friends living in the area that I visit regularly – not to mention my love for the Minsmere nature reserve!
Despite (or possibly because of) that I would have been very happy if EDF had come up with a proposal to build a new Sizewell B-sized power station on the coast.
They could have used the same model we saw during its construction in the 1990s. It caused some disruption in Leiston (I was the local reporter there for part of the time) but it brought increased prosperity to an area blighted by unemployment.
However the more I see and hear of the plans for Sizewell C the more worried I become – why does it have to be so large and so disruptive?
The idea of building a huge “campus” between Leiston and Theberton would totally change the character of an area that has become well known for its beauty and wildlife value thanks to television programmes like Springwatch and the marketing efforts of tourist organisations.
And it’s interesting that wildlife groups, including the RSPB which manages Minsmere and other nature reserves in the area, have major concerns – when Sizewell B was built they took a neutral stand despite all the controversy surrounding the project.
There have been crumbs offered by EDF – financial support for an inadequate two-village by-pass on the A12 when a full four-village by-pass is clearly needed – but frankly the impression they are giving is that they want to carry out major surgery to the Suffolk coast while offering only a sticking plaster to help it to heal.
I’m encouraged to see that both Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal seem to prepared to stand up to EDF at this stage.
I just hope they maintain this stance and keep putting pressure on the company to modify its plans. With increased use of renewable power, is it really necessary to build such a behemoth on our heritage coast?
Road misery in Ipswich:
The news that the section of Ranelagh Road from Princes Street to Ancaster Road will be closed for seven weeks has filled motorists with horror.
They have every right to be worried about this. The county council hasn’t exactly covered itself with glory when it comes to roadworks in the town.
The work on the station forecourt was supposed to be finished by Christmas. Then it “slipped” to February. Now the council engineers say these final works will go on until the end of April.
Of course that shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Queen Street element of Travel Ipswich was supposed to be completed by November 2013. It’s only just started!
And this latest bombshell that one of the most important roads in Ipswich is to close for weeks has been dropped at the last moment with no time for anyone to come up with alternative proposals.
Why weren’t we told about this when the work at Ipswich station forecourt started?
I’m afraid it looks as if the people sitting in their offices in Endeavour House, Landmark House or wherever simply got on and drew up their plans without thinking seriously how they might affect those who use the roads.
There was no consultation, no discussion of how journeys could be changed, nothing. The people of Ipswich were just handed the news that one of their busiest roads would close as a fait accompli.
If senior figures in Endeavour House are wondering why they are looked at with contempt by many people in Suffolk’s county town feel they might like to have a look at how this issue was handled!