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Communities on alert for start of Sizewell consultation

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 September 2016

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C.

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C.

Archant

Communities across east Suffolk are today waiting eagerly and anxiously to find out more details about Sizewell C.

The second stage of consultation is now expected within months – EDF officials told parish councillors this week they are keen to get on with it swiftly – following the go-ahead for the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset.

EDF Energy officials in Suffolk said the HPC decision was “good news for Sizewell C”, but could not yet give a date when the next consultation will start.

It is understood officials from the company are talking with Suffolk Coastal District Council and Suffolk County Council over the format of the consultation, length and start date.

A spokeswoman said: “As we have said previously EDF will continue to be the lead partner in the Sizewell C Project. We look forward to consulting stakeholders and local communities in Suffolk on our developing proposals for Sizewell C.”

Chinese company CGN has agreed to fund 20% of the development costs of Sizewell C, but its further involvement in the project has not yet been made public.

CGN is due to take a 66.5% share of the new power station at Bradwell, due to be the flagship for Chinese investment, design and technology. It is not yet known how the Government’s new financial and ownership controls could affect the project.

Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS) is hoping there will be as long as possible to consider the proposals for Sizewell C.

Alison Downes of TEAGS said: “Nearly four years after the first consultation stage here in Suffolk on Sizewell C, all evidence suggests that EDF is doggedly sticking to unacceptable plans that will have a devastating impact on our tiny parish – including a multi-storey campus for 3,000 construction workers beside a hamlet of 100 people, along one of the main routes into RSPB Minsmere, and a wildly unrealistic expectation that the B1122, a country road through Theberton, can cope with all construction and emergency traffic.”

TEAGS has expressed support for local Somerset residents.

“We can imagine how residents next to Hinkley C must be feeling, where local campaigners fought valiantly to change aspects of EDF’s construction proposals but to little avail,” said Su Swallow of TEAGS.

“Having visited Hinkley, we know that their experience of negotiating with EDF matches our own thus far in seeking to persuade EDF to amend it proposals – the company appears deaf to what we have to say. The only straw of comfort is the Government’s intention to take a ‘special share’ in future reactors, and we will do all in our power to engage the Government in our battle to stop EDF trampling our communities in east Suffolk.”

Sizewell C is expected to bring a £100m a year boost to the Suffolk economy and the HPC decision was welcomed in the county.

Graham Kill, chairman of the Institute of Directors Suffolk branch, said: “Whilst it has been a more difficult journey than hoped to get Hinkley Point approved, we hope that this is a positive step in the right direction for Sizewell C.

“Further developments at Sizewell will increase the opportunity for jobs in the area and therefore help local businesses. Hopefully the issues with Hinkley Point are behind us and progress on Sizewell C can be made without similar stumbling blocks.”

The new legal framework for future foreign investment in Britain’s critical infrastructure will mean the Government will be able to prevent the sale of EDF’s controlling stake prior to the completion of construction, without the prior notification and agreement of ministers.

This agreement will be confirmed in an exchange of letters between the Government and EDF.

Existing legal powers, and the new legal framework, will mean that the Government is able to intervene in the sale of EDF’s stake once Hinkley is operational.

After Hinkley, the British Government will take a “special share” in all future nuclear new build projects – including both Sizewell C and Bradwell. This will ensure that significant stakes cannot be sold without the Government’s knowledge or consent.

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