23 January 2017
Papers released today provide a proposed formal response from Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council as part of EDF Energy's Stage 2 public consultation on the proposed development of Sizewell C.
Each of the two authorities will hold a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 31 January to discuss the joint report amongst elected members that offers a full response to current plans as part of the long awaited Stage 2 consultation, ahead of any potential development of a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast. If agreed, the Cabinet report will be forwarded to EDF Energy before the consultation ends on Friday 3 February 2017 alongside the views of many local community groups and individuals who have taken time to offer important feedback on this subject.
The draft response makes it clear that both authorities support the principal of a new nuclear power station and recognise the benefits for the local economy; including jobs, skills and business. However, at this point there is a lot more work required on the part of EDF Energy to provider much greater detail and demonstrate how they plan to mitigate many of the significant concerns that such a major development brings with it.
Particular aspects of the feedback offered by the authorities focus on the challenges of accommodation, construction, transport, environment and effect on local communities.
The report confirms that some of the proposals are sound; including the temporary extension of rail links and park and ride bus site. The positive economic outcomes are also welcomed.
In regards to road improvement the councils have made it clear that the preferred option is for the ‘SEGway' (the Suffolk Energy Gateway including a 4 village bypass) to be built in time for the development. This means that within EDF Energy's current stage 2 consultation, the option for a 2-village bypass for Farnham and Stratford St Andrew is the absolute bare minimum mitigation that they must fund. The authorities will strive to deliver a SEGWay by seeking government funding to add to what EDF Energy must provide for a two village by pass.
The report states that there are aspects of the proposals that require more detail from EDF Energy before the authorities can be content. There is a lack of information regarding potential alternative locations for the borrow pits, spoil heaps (up to a huge 35 metres high) and stockpiling of other materials that will occur as part of construction. There is a significant threat to the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). There is also concern about the scale of the site footprint and its proximity and vulnerability to coastal processes. There is similar concern regarding the proposed five storey high accommodation block for construction workers in regards to its location and design. In short, there are many elements of the proposals that really need a greater level of detail to satisfy either local authority.
The third element of the report going to each Cabinet outlines a number of areas of EDF Energy's proposals that simply require much more detail before either authority is even willing to give a view on whether to support or disagree. Further information is required in regards to traffic movement and related volumes that are likely during construction in order to better understand the impact on existing road networks and what additional infrastructure may be needed to help alleviate concerns from the local community including changes to existing road junctions. Without further detail regarding how EDF Energy intend to utilise the different modes of transport available, the councils must assume a worst case scenario at this point, until EDF Energy can clearly demonstrate the benefits of their proposal and how they would deliver this. It is also unclear how social and economic benefits will be delivered to local people and surrounding communities and what part tourism and business plays at this point. there are deep concerns regarding the design of the site and power station that need addressing and also the accumulated impact of such development such as additional volumes of household waste and environmental impact.
The final element of the report focuses on areas of concern that Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council believe have not been covered at all by EDF Energy in this stage of consultation. The councils urge EDF to allow much more time during the required Stage 3 consultation and continued collaboration takes place to work on detailed aspects of the proposals for the site that address the existing concerns raised as part of the Stage 2 consultation. The Councils will work in collaboration with EDF Energy and Government to look at how such development can be delivered with the appropriate mitigation and level of funding required for such an ambitious project.
Suffolk County Councillor Guy McGregor, Chair of Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG) said: “With this formal response to the consultation I want to make our position very clear. Whilst we understand the need to address the UK's future power needs and we broadly support the principal of a new nuclear power station being built in our community in Suffolk, we are not able to support the specific proposals put forward at this time. We believe that the impacts of the development planned in its current guise are as yet, not fully mitigated or evidenced.
“There is much more work for EDF Energy to do to convince us that their plans are up to the expectation we place upon them on behalf of the people of Suffolk. For a number of reasons outlined in our report, we are not yet fully convinced that the benefits of EDF's proposals outweigh the impacts on the community.”
Suffolk Coastal District Councillor Geoff Holdcroft, Vice Chair of Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG) echoed this sentiment saying: “We have particular reservations concerning a number of proposals laid out as part of this consultation and we want absolute clarity from EDF Energy on these aspects before we are prepared to offer our support. We do recognise the positive social and economic benefits that may come to local communities in East Suffolk but we need to know more about how these benefits will be achieved and this can only happen if we work with EDF Energy and Government to make sure our voice is heard. We want EDF Energy to put more effort into addressing the concerns that have come directly from our communities and from our local authorities.
“This massive project can be good for Suffolk, but we need much greater detail and evidence from EDF Energy before we are able to offer firm support.”
The Suffolk County Council Cabinet report can be viewed on Suffolk County Council's website at: http://committeeminutes.suffolkcc.gov.uk/meeting.aspx?d=31/Jan/2017&c=The Cabinet
Suffolk Coastal District Council's report can be found on their website at: http://apps.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/committeeminutes/showagenda.asp?id=22031
JLAG is made up of elected members from both Suffolk Coastal District Council and Suffolk County Council