Road, rail and sea to be used for Sizewell C materials - and bypass could be temporary measure
PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 July 2019
A multi-million pound link road to take construction traffic to and from Sizewell C could be ripped up once the proposed power plant is open, it has been suggested.
The idea of making the route, including a bypass for Theberton, a temporary road is one of the options in the latest details revealed by EDF Energy in its Stage 4 consultation on the £14billion twin reactor project.
The company is now seeking views on a new integrated strategy for delivery of construction materials, using sea for delivery of the largest components, mixed with road and rail.
Some community leaders and campaigners see the link road from the A12 as a legacy for the area providing a quicker, direct route to Leiston.
Carly Vince, Sizewell C chief planning officer, said the idea of a temporary link road had been raised by farmers and landowners keen to see the area restored to how it is now.
EDF has also announced extra land for wildlife following concerns raised by environmental campaigners, and extensive details of jobs which will be created.
Behind the scenes, work is going on to prepare the application for development consent, which EDF hopes to submit January-March next year, and with government and potential investors ahead of a Final Investment Decision, which will take place late 2021 or early 2022 with work on site - if all approvals are received - starting almost immediately.
The latest consultation lasts 10 weeks and is focussed on specific issues, although people are welcome to comment on any aspect of the project.
There are no changes to some aspects of the proposals - the campus site at Eastbridge for 2,400 workers and 400-pitch caravan site in Leiston both remain unchanged, as does the intention for a Two Villages Bypass of Stratford St Andrew and Farnham rather than the hoped-for Four Villages route.
The integrated transport strategy has been designed because Network Rail has doubts over whether all the work needed on the East Suffolk Line can be completed in time, and also community concerns over footpath crossing closures. EDF has also learned from its experiences so far at Hinkley Point C new build.
Executives say the beach landing facility and three trains a day would reduce the number of lorries to around 325 on a typical day.
Jim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director, said: "Sizewell C presents a great opportunity to boost jobs, skills and education in Suffolk whilst tackling the urgent climate crisis we all face.
"However, we know that people feel strongly about how we move freight and workers during the construction of Sizewell C. That is why we are proposing an integrated transport option that takes elements of both the road and rail strategies in order to reduce the amount of traffic on local roads further, whilst we continue to deliver the largest equipment to the site via sea using the beach landing facility."
What sort of jobs will Sizewell C create?
Types of jobs - and how many will be needed in each role - have been outlined, with thousands of them expected to go to local people.
The project is expected to create 25,000 jobs over its 10-year construction and 900 new jobs once the station becomes operational.
Jim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director, said 50% of the jobs at Hinkley Point C had gone to local people and work was taking place with training providers and educational establishments in Suffolk to ensure a workforce with the rights skills would be ready to take advantage of the opportunities at Sizewell C.
These would generally upskill the area's workforce, providing long-term careers and helping other companies also needing employees.
He said: "Morally we cannot inflict the level of disruption construction will have in this area without providing an upside in the creation of jobs.
"I would not expect a whole workforce to shift from one side of the country to the other and even if we could do, we would not want to do that. We want to provide jobs here. We want to provide local employment."
Procedures and processes from Hinkley will transfer, and perhaps some supervisory staff, but not the workers.
Up to 8,500 workers - 7,900 on the main development site and 600 on the associated development sites - will be on site at peak times. The company is aiming for a 40% femaile workforce and to recruit a minimum of 1,000 apprentices.
Jobs will include:
● Long-term: more than 1,700 life-of-project roles, including 700-plus high level security officers and drivers, and over 600 operations support, administrator, and document controller roles.
● Earthworks/enabling: includes a need for more than 1,900 people, including 650 construction general operatives. These roles will build on construction skills already prevalent in the local area and act as a route into the civil construction phase. There will also be a requirement for plant roles including more than 300 excavator operators.
● Civil construction: More than 2,300 roles, including more than 800 steel fixers, 450 lifting operations technicians, over 450 qualified supervisors, and more than 225 site technicians and graduate engineers.
● Mechanical, electrical, and air conditioning: There will be a need for more than 3,300 roles, including 490 welders, 800 electricians, 600 engineers, and 300 cable installation
EDF says that in all areas of work at Sizewell C there will be jobs and progression routes for local and regional people to develop into supervisor and management roles on the project and the company will support an education, skills and employment programme specifically to ensure that a maximum number of local people benefit from opportunities on the project.
Sizewell C is expected to pump at least £100 million a year into the regional economy during peak construction and £40 million a year during its 60 years of operation.
'Integrated' transport strategy
Three transport strategies are now on the table - rail-led, road-led and a new integrated proposal.
Rail-led now looks an increasingly unlikely choice as the time it would take to prepare the East Suffolk Line to take an extra 10 train movements a day would take too long and not fit with the timetable for building Sizewell C. The work needed would include a passing loop, a track crossover to allow trains to travel during the day without affecting passenger trains, and up to 45 upgrades or closures of level crossings, which would affect many footpaths.
The road-led strategy would still include trains, a Sizewell link road from the A12 near Yoxford to the construction site and holding areas for HGVs near Ipswich and Felixstowe, and a beach landing facilty for barges to bring the biggest components ashore.
The new integrated policy would include provision for up to three trains a day (six movements, one during the day and five at night) to and from Sizewell Halt or a new spur line at Eastlands Industrial Site, Leiston, use of the beach landing facility, HGV holding areas and the Sizewell link road.
Indications from the first three years of construction at Hinkley Point C indicate that there will be less lorries than originally thought. Earlier projections suggested up to 1,500 lorry movements a day at peak times. The integrated strategy is expected to see 325 lorries on a typical day and around 500 on the busiest days, compared with 375 trucks on a typical day and 575 on a peak day under the road-led option.
Extra sites for wildlife
One of the most controversial aspects of the project is its potential impact on the world-renowned RSPB Minsmere site and the precious Sizewell Marshes Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI).
While the nuclear power station will mean the loss of some SSSI and EDF admits there will be an impact on the surrounding environment, it is keen to minimise this and create new habitat to compensate.
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It has already created the 165-acre heathland and wetland site at Aldhurst Farm and is now proposing additional land of more than 420 acres, including three sites to help protect the breeding marsh harrier population at Minsmere.
These would be between Sizewell and Darsham and established in case current work to establish habitats on the EDF Energy estate does not provide sufficient foraging area.
Two sites are also suggested to compensate for fen meadow found on the SSSI. Further assessment will take place over the viability of the sites - one east of Halesworth and the other near Benhall - including the need for any engineering operations, soils and water level changes.
Also proposed is around 90,000 cubic metres of replacement floodplain in two locations to mitigate for loss of SSSI to create the main entrance into the power station.
This would be within the main development site and they would be permanent wetland features.
Another bonus would be improvements to Kenton Hills car park and the access into the Kenton Hills woodland.
The consultation will last 10 weeks - starting today, Thursday, July 18 and running until Friday, September 27.
There will be six public exhibitions at which people will be able to see the latest plans and discuss their concerns with experts.
These will take place at:
● Leiston United Church, High Street, Leiston, July 23, 2pm to 8pm
● Yoxford Village Hall, Old High Road, Yoxford, July 24, 1pm to 6pm
● Wickham Market Village Hall, High Street, Wickham Market, July 25, Noon to 3pm
● Hacheston Village Hall, The Street, Hacheston, July 25, 5pm to 8pm
● Woodbridge Community Hall, Station Road, Woodbridge, July 26, 2pm to 8pm
● Riverside Centre, Great Glemham Road, Stratford St Andrew, July 27, 10am to 4pm
In addition, people can visit the Sizewell C EDF offices in Leiston High Street to give their views, or visit the Sizewell C website
The latest developments have followed feedback on previous consultations and ongoing engagement with stakeholders, further technical and environmental assessments, and experiences at Hinkley Point C.
Officials from EDF are also willing to attend town and parish councils to give presentations on the latest developments.