Community leaders cannot support Sizewell C
PUBLISHED: 12:43 11 September 2020 | UPDATED: 19:44 11 September 2020
Suffolk County Council has today said it cannot give its backing to proposals for a £20billion new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast without changes and more work to the plans.
The council has cited “significant concerns” over transport, design and environmental impact in the plans for Sizewell C submitted by EDF Energy.
A report to go before the council’s cabinet on September 22 said current proposals do not sufficiently avoid, minimise, mitigate or compensate impacts of the proposed development.
It says many issues raised in previous rounds of consultations remain outstanding, and the lack of improvement and progress regarding many of these issues is “very disappointing” considering how early in the development process the council raised its concerns.
The draft Relevant Representation lists the areas where it believes EDF Energy needs to undertake further work.
Richard Rout, cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “I cannot support EDF Energy’s proposal as it currently stands. I have huge concerns regarding a number of impacts that I do not believe EDF Energy has appropriately addressed.
“On behalf of the communities around this area of East Suffolk and the wider county, we have repeatedly asked EDF Energy to explore alternative methods of delivering key aspects of this development to reduce the impact on local people and wildlife.
“We remain very disappointed that the transport strategy presented by EDF Energy relies heavily on road-based haulage for materials. In its current form, we don’t believe it is a sustainable solution with its massive impact on the environment and our communities and a much higher number of heavy goods vehicles taking to Suffolk’s roads than our existing infrastructure can handle.
“We believe there needs to be much more work done to increase rail or sea transport to alleviate some of the pressure due to be put on our road network and our communities.
“We cannot look past the significant environmental impacts that have not been mitigated nearly as much as we would expect. We believe the proposed use of pylons is an unnecessary blight on the landscape and the effects on local wildlife and wider environment have not been mitigated to our satisfaction. Therefore, we believe serious discussions are required to explore what further avoidance, mitigation and compensation can be offered should the Secretary of State decide to give his approval at this point.”
Council leader Matthew Hicks added: “Suffolk County Council has always supported the principle of a new nuclear power station at Sizewell, recognising the important contribution to the national energy strategy and the large economic boost such a development could bring to our county.
“Our position has always been that we needed to see if the advantages could outweigh the disadvantages. Unfortunately, as these plans stand, the disadvantages heavily outweigh the advantages. There is much work for EDF to do in addressing our concerns and the concerns of our communities.”
Suffolk County Council has always supported the principle of Sizewell C and believes it would offer an important contribution to the national energy strategy. The council would also welcome the benefits of new jobs and skills.
But the council does not support EDF Energy’s proposed transport strategy as it remains predominantly lorry-based and in the council’s view is unsustainable.
The authority strongly believes that an increased proportion of rail and sea transport is reasonably achievable and in its current form, the transport impacts on Suffolk’s highway network are unacceptable.
Other areas of concern include proposals to have additional pylons on site, ecological damage, suitable mitigation to protect local wildlife species, and appropriate levels of funding for mitigation measures and compensation to support the impact on the local community and related infrastructure.
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The council accepts that EDF Energy has addressed some of the authority’s previous concerns following successful representations from both Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council alongside local stakeholders.
These areas include: improvements to the design of non-nuclear buildings on site, removal of the training centre away from its proposed location at Goose Hill in the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Public Services Fund to mitigate costs for county council services.
A spokesman for EDF said: “We welcome the council’s support in principle for Sizewell C and acknowledgement that Sizewell C could bring significant benefits to the region by creating jobs and providing access skills and that it could make an important contribution to the UK’s energy needs. We also note that the council recognises that we have addressed a number of their concerns but there is more work to be done.
“Sizewell C offers Suffolk long-term, well paid jobs and access to skills and training in the growing energy sector. We are working hard to ensure those benefits can reach some of the most deprived areas of the county. During eight years of public consultation we have updated our plans following feedback and we continue to listen and work to make the most of Sizewell C for the region and ensure that the benefits far outweigh any impacts.
“We are looking closely at how we can further improve our plans to further minimise the impacts, particularly around transport and the environment.
“We are focused on how we can increase deliveries by sea and rail and reduce the number of HGVs on local roads. We remain committed to increasing the net biodiversity in the area and explore the most sensitive ways to carry out construction.
“We are committed to working in a way that minimises and mitigates the impact on local communities and the environment during the construction of Sizewell C and to leave a positive legacy of jobs and skills for generations to come.”
In its draft representation to the Planning Inspectorate, East Suffolk Council has expressed concerns over a wide range of issues, including noise, visual impacts, and air quality, and cites missed opportunities over the past decade in preparing the East Sufolk Line for what could have been a clear rail-led strategy for the construction period.
It says some of the compensation proposed to mitigate ecology issues “looks impressive” but there are questions over long term monitoring, management and how long it will take to come to fruition, while mitigation for some bird species has “been ignored and this cannot be acceptable”.
It is says Harbour Porpoises “will find that, on the worst days, over 3,400kg of fish will be drawn in by the [Sizewell C] cooling system and this will spread dead and dying fish over 5ha of Sizewell bay. No attempt to mitigate or compensate for this impact is discernible as ‘no
adverse effect’ is SZC Co. verdict.”
Drinking water is also “potentially significant ongoing issue for which there are no clear answers”. East Suffolk’s document says: “However, given the unknowns in this area there is the potential for risk to private water supplies in the area which will need to be properly assessed.”
David Wood, Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group spokesperson for the environment and public protection, and chairman of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB: “I am very pleased that Suffolk County Council have finally decided to oppose EDF’s plans for Sizewell C, and have acknowledged the importance of our beautiful coastline. Given that the AONB was recently extended, it is even more important that we protect it properly. It’s just so frustrating that the Conservatives voted to reject our motion in July, when we asked them to do exactly this.
“The arguments in favour of Sizewell C simply don’t stack up: jobs won’t benefit local people; there is no way the environmental damage can be ‘mitigated’; and it most certainly is not a ‘temporary’ construction project, this development would harm our county for decades.”
Alison Downes, executive director of the Stop Sizewell C campaign, said: “We welcome the recommendation to Cabinet that Suffolk County cannot support EDF’s Sizewell C proposals as they stand, but would like to see Cabinet go further and oppose the project entirely.”
Charles Macdowell, chairman of the B1122 Action Group on Sizewell, said: “Suffolk County Council as our highways authority has damned EDF’s transport strategy and in particular its flawed Sizewell Link Road route. The council says the route ‘would have a permanent detrimental impact on landscape and ecology’ with no ‘legacy benefit” after construction’. We agree 100%. We are also very pleased to see the council repeat their interest in a better solution from the A12 south of Saxmundham.”
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