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Councils joint response to Stage 4 Sizewell C consultation

Posted by on 16 September 2019 | Comments

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Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council have set out their concerns, expectations and areas of focus as part of a joint response to EDF Energy’s Stage 4 Sizewell C consultation.       

Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council have published their proposed joint authority response to EDF Energy’s Stage 4 public consultation for a new nuclear site on Suffolk’s east coast. The councils will now hold cabinet meetings on Monday 23rd (East Suffolk) and Tuesday 24th (Suffolk County Council) September to confirm the details of their response. Both councils welcomed the further round of public consultation so that EDF Energy could provide additional detail and amendments to the proposals presented at Stage 3. However, both councils were somewhat disappointed that EDF Energy did not use this opportunity to respond to key elements of some concerns raised earlier in the process.

The joint report makes it clear that the authorities continue to support the principle of a new nuclear power station at Sizewell and recognise the significant benefits that such a development would bring, however there continues to be concern and focus on the environmental, social and economic impacts of such a large-scale development, especially in regards to the cumulative energy-related projects which are currently muted for the east Suffolk coast.

Based on the developed proposals put forward by EDF Energy at Stage 4, both councils want to see a sustainable transport strategy put in place by the energy firm to ensure that every effort is made to reduce the impact on road use and congestion as part of any development that takes place. As part of this mitigation, each council continues to expect EDF Energy to maximise the development and use of marine and rail transport options.  

The scale of investment surrounding development of a new site at Sizewell would be similar to the London 2012 Olympics, believed to be worth around £14 billion. As part of Stage 4, EDF Energy has projected that the development’s workforce would be around 8,500 at its peak which is around 2,500 higher than previously suggested. Once in operation, the power station would create 900 permanent jobs. EDF Energy expects the development to generate £100m for the regional economy during construction and £40m each year during its operation.

EDF Energy has always said that Stage 4 was an extension of its Stage 3 public consultation and they have used this latest round to offer further detail on freight management strategy options, which explain broadly how they intend to move materials, machinery and people through Suffolk to access the development site. All three strategies offered by EDF Energy include road transport movement. This remains a key area of concern for local communities close to the proposed site. 

Suffolk County Councillor Richard Smith, Chairman of the Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG) said:

“We held a really well attended community event in July, with representation from every local community close to the Sizewell area. Residents shared their views with us regarding what has been presented by EDF Energy at Stage 4. This feedback has been welcomed by both local authorities and has been a key part in how we have come to consider our joint response. I really want to see a much greater use of rail and marine transport used during any construction period. I welcome that a rail-led strategy is still one of the proposed options.

Both local authorities are willing to assist EDF Energy through further discussions with the Department for Transport and Network Rail to see what can potentially be done. Whilst it has only been around six months since the end of Stage 3 consultation, there are many areas that we wish to see progressed and resolved before EDF Energy submit a DCO. This is the view of our local communities as well as both councils.”

East Suffolk Councillor Craig Rivett, deputy Chairman of the Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG) said:

“Both councils are pleased to have received a wide range of views from residents and there are still plenty of things to be considered. For example, EDF Energy has now offered alternative suggestions for proposed electricity pylons with reductions in height and overall numbers required.

Whilst it is welcome that EDF Energy are grappling with the pylons issue both councils remain of the view that we want to see more work done to understand if there is a solution which is less intrusive on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, such as undergrounding the cables where possible.”

Proposals for Sizewell C will be considered under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process which is part of the Planning Act 2008. It is expected that EDF Energy will submit their plans early next year for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for consideration.

Based on the nature of this planning process, both Suffolk councils have an important role to play in putting forward the views of the local community. As consultees, the councils are committed to doing all they can to make sure the development can work for the people of Suffolk as well as significantly contributing to the nation’s energy needs.

There will also be a key role for the councils in providing a Local Impact Report for the examination of the application by the Planning Inspectorate. The councils will be responsible for discharging the requirements (planning conditions) on the Development Consent Order and be responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of any DCO made.

EDF Energy’s Stage 4 public consultation closes on Friday 27 September 2019.