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Power plant to pump up to £200million into economy of Suffolk and region

PUBLISHED: 05:30 04 January 2019

How Sizewell C would appear from the beach at Sizewell Picture: EDF ENERGY

How Sizewell C would appear from the beach at Sizewell Picture: EDF ENERGY

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The latest plans for Sizewell C include bypasses for Theberton, Farnham and Stratford St Andrew - and possibly a link road from Yoxford to Sizewell.

The four villages bypass campaigners watch lorries pass close by in Farnham Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe four villages bypass campaigners watch lorries pass close by in Farnham Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The 6.8km link road route would connect the A12 at Yoxford to the Sizewell C construction site and bypass the B1122, giving campaigners a vital victory after six years of pressure.

They have claimed the B1122 is little more than a country lane and could not take up to 1,500 lorries a day – and the need for a link road is “indisputable”.

Proposals for £14bn Sizewell C have now been fine-tuned – with the project edging a step closer with the start of the final stage of consultation today.

The B1122 bypass/link road would only be built if road rather than rail is chosen as the priority for delivering materials to the site.

But two bypasses will definitely be constructed – Theberton will be bypassed, bringing relief from noise and vibration from lorries, as will Farnham and Stratford St Andrew.

Little Glemham and Marlesford had also hoped for bypasses but EDF Energy’s research says their inclusion is not necessary for the purposes of constructing a new nuclear power station and the Government would not allow it.

However, hope is not lost as Suffolk County Council is leading a bid for a four villages bypass and if Government cash can be secured, EDF will gladly give the amount it would spend on bypassing two villages towards the larger project.

A CGI image showing how traffic would cross the Sizewell Marches SSSI on a causeway Picture: EDF ENERGYA CGI image showing how traffic would cross the Sizewell Marches SSSI on a causeway Picture: EDF ENERGY

Sizewell C project development director Jim Crawford said EDF was giving whatever support it could to the council bid for a four villages bypass.

He said: “We want to build more than a power station, we can see from Hinkley Point C that nuclear new build will be a force for good and deliver social, environmental and economic benefits in Suffolk and across the East of England.

“We encourage people to come along to one of our exhibitions or to pick up a copy of the consultation document at their local library or our office in Leiston. It is important to us that people share their views on the latest proposals for Sizewell C and help shape the plans.”

Revised forecasts from EDF now say the project would bring a £100m year economic boost – and possibly as high as £200m, with huge contract possibilities for local firms. The project is expected to create 25,000 jobs over the decade it takes to build.

Mr Crawford said it was unlikely there would be further consultation before a development consent order was submitted – unless there was a major change to the plans.

However, the feedback received would be fed into the final plans and the consultation still included some options to be decided.

Revised forecasts from EDF now say the £14bn project would bring a £100m year economic boost – and possibly as high as £200m, based on the experience at Hinkley Point C – with huge contract possibilities for local firms.

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C Picture: EDF ENERGYA computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C Picture: EDF ENERGY

The project is expected to create 25,000 jobs over the decade it takes to build with 5,600 on site at peak times, and create 900 full-time jobs once the power station opens.

Mr Crawford said finance for the project would be decided in parallel with the planning decisions – 10 investment companies have already expressed an interest.

Eastbridge campus site

One of the most controversial features of the Sizewell C construction site will not be moved – but EDF Energy says it has done everything possible to minimise its impact.

Villagers around Eastbridge and other campaigners have fought long and hard to veto the site earmarked for the accommodation campus for workers.

Experts were also commissioned to undertake a study to look at alternative sites.

Jim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVEJim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

But EDF has decided land near Eastbridge is still the best option – but have modified their plans considerably. After feedback from the last consultation, and advice from environmental and technical experts, the campus site has been cut by 20 acres – with the development now only going on the east side of Eastbridge Road.

Buildings will be lower – four storeys maximum instead of five – and it will still be possible to accommodate 2,400 workers.

Construction will begin at the southern end of the land and the northern end of the site will be car parking. The site, which will have a gym, restaurant, shops, bars, launderette, will be security-fenced and landscaped to hide it.

Off-site sports facilities will be in Leiston and shared with the community and then left after the power station is completed as a legacy benefit for the town.

Sizewell C project development director Jim Crawford said the changes had followed the Stage 2 feedback and lessons learned from the early development of Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

The campus will not cater for all workers – there is likely to be more than 6,000 at peak construction times – and others will either live locally, or commute, ferried by bus from park and ride sites at Darsham and Wickham Market, each having parking for 1,250 cars.

Mr Crawford said the campus would enable workers to be close at hand, allowing flexible working patterns and out of hours work.

It will also reduce the number of workers travelling on local roads, enable EDF to manage worker behaviour and bring benefits to local firms supplying goods and services to the campus.

Perhaps more importantly, it will relieve pressure on the local housing market – ensuring not too many vital rented homes are taken up by workers, or not too many holiday cottages.

In addition there will be 400 caravans for workers at the Eastlands Industrial Estate in Leiston.

An EDF spokeswoman said: “We are also proposing to establish a Housing Fund to enable local authorities to take early measures to mitigate against potential impacts of Sizewell C on the local housing market.

“Feedback also indicated that sensitive landscaping during operation and the return of the land to its original use would be necessary to make this temporary development acceptable.

“Following feedback from earlier consultation the campus would be fenced and there would be no northern access to the site which, along with landscaping, would help screen the campus from Eastbridge.”

Road or rail?

Theberton will have a bypass built if Sizewell C goes ahead.

That’s the pledge from EDF Energy, which could also spend millions of pounds on a new link 6.8km road from the A12 at Yoxford to the construction site.

For many campaigners the impact of lorry traffic on people living alongside the B1122 has been a real sticking point and while a link road may satisfy most, for some a bypass of Theberton would not be enough.

A key decision still to be made is whether the delivery of construction materials should be rail-led or road-led.

Either way, the Theberton bypass will be built but the link road will only be constructed if a road-led strategy is adopted.

Using road for the vast majority of the freight (some rail would still be used) would see a peak average of 750 lorry movements a day, and on busy days perhaps twice as many, up to 1,500.

A rail-led strategy would see 450 lorries at peak average times but five daily trains instead of two, taking hundreds of trucks off the road every day.

Under both strategies, there would be a two-village bypass of Farnham and Stratford St Andrew, a roundabout on the A12/B1122 at Yoxford and a host of other minor road improvements; plus work to the East Suffolk rail line and branch lines and 64 level crossings, and a delivery area at Sizewell Halt or rail siding at Eastlands Industrial Estate in Leiston.

If rail is the priority, then a new rail line would be created into the construction site from the Saxmundham-Leiston branch line.

EDF is seeking public views on whether people would prefer a rail or road-led strategy – but much will also depend on how quickly Network Rail could carry out the significant improvements needed to the rail lines, and if that work can be done before a start date for construction of Sizewell C.

EDF said: “Ongoing feasibility work requires additional physical studies, site assessments and detailed design work.

“In addition to considering the Stage 3 consultation responses, we will need to further assess these risks and any potential implications on programme with Network Rail’s assistance, as part of our decision on which strategy to pursue in the application for development consent.”

The rail work would also include a passing loop on the East Suffolk Line between Melton and Wickham Market, and repairs or replacement of some existing track to bring it up to freight standard.

Getting across the SSSI

After gathering feedback from experts and stakeholders, a causeway designed to protect wildlife will be built across part of a beauty spot to create the main entrance into the new Sizewell C complex.

The permanent two-lane access will connect the power station to the B1122.

At the point where it crosses the Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest it will be carried on a causeway over a culvert.

The culvert will be larger than required normally to leave the route of the Leiston Drain intact and will also allow for the passage of bats and water voles, and feature a ledge to enable otters to get through and continue using the whole SSSI.

EDF Energy said: “The width of the access road would be reduced once Sizewell C is operational and would be designed with landscaped margins to tie into the adjacent habitats, including woodland blocks and hedgerows, while still allowing safe access.”

Jetty plan abandoned

Delivering large amounts of material by sea for the construction of Sizewell C has been ruled out – because of the sensitivity of the coastline.

Extensive technical studies have shown that if a jetty was to be built it would need to be 800m long.

The North Sea off Sizewell is shallow and studies have show that a major project such as a jetty for heavy shipping loads could disturb the seabed, have an adverse impact on wildlife and cause coastal erosion of the coastline, where Sizewelll B and the redundant Sizewell A stations also stand.

However, there will still be a need for a permanent Beach Landing Facility for some exceptionally large loads too big to deliver by road.

The BLF would be used around every five to 10 years during construction for a few weeks at a time and beach closures would be kept to a minimum.

It would be connected to the Sizewell C site by a road but hidden by vegetation.

Job opportunities

Much work is being done to encourage youngsters to think about possible careers connected with Sizewell C – and to persuade schools and colleges to establish the courses needed.

The project will offer a wide range of career opportunities from construction to working at the power plant when it is completed.

Sizewell C project development director Jim Crawford said areas of Suffolk have severe employment and deprivation problems – including the Leiston area and parts of Ipswich – and the nuclear power station could provide opportunities for young people in those places.

He said: “This project will take many years to develop and there will be a range of opportunities – not just for young people but perhaps mature workers looking for career changes.”

EDF is working with schools, colleges, higher education and industry partners to ensure the skills needed will be available.

Consultation

Consultation gets under way today and runs for 12 weeks until Friday, March 29.

The first public exhibition takes place at Sizewell B Visitor Centre today from 4pm to 8pm, and then tomorrow, 11am to 5pm, at Leiston United Church, High Street, Leiston.

A full list of all venues and dates is available on the EDF Energy website.

Sizewell C project development director Jim Crawford said: “The exhibitions are only part of the process. We will be meeting with parish and town councils and giving presentations on the proposals, and also meeting other local organisations.”

It was vital as many people as possible gave their views, which will inform the final plans to be submitted to Government. Unless there is a major change to the plans, this is the final consultation.

EDF will again be funding Planning Aid to provide independent advice to local councils wishing to make representations.

Campaigners are holding their own exhibitions to shadow those of EDF.

Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS), B1122 Action Group and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group will hold eight ‘Sizewell Concerns’, featuring videos and new and updated displays.

Paul Collins, co chair of TEAGS, said: “We are not opposed to the Sizewell C project for two new nuclear power stations but challenge EDF to lessen the impact on those who will be directly affected.

“A recent survey of parish residents has revealed increasing concerns about the impacts this development will bring, and a significant proportion of residents

believe that the area –

which is home to Minsmere Reserve – is too environmentally sensitive to host such a massive project.”

The first exhibition will be tomorrow from 11am to 5pm, at the Quaker Meeting Rooms, Waterloo Road, Leiston. Full details at teags.org

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