As a six-month Planning Inspectorate examination of proposals for a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell draws to a close, East Suffolk Council has welcomed a range of important revisions to the scheme and a multi-million pound financial package for investment back in to local communities.
East Suffolk Council holds a ‘neutral’ position on the construction of Sizewell C and has been resolute in its view that additional steps to reduce the impact on the local area must be agreed. Now, following lengthy, intense and robust discussions with the applicant, a number of crucial mitigation packages have been added to the proposal, or will be delivered as agreed in ‘a deed of obligation’, which was signed by the Council prior to the close of the Examination.
The deed provides a governance framework for the construction phase of Sizewell C and mitigation packages totalling just over £44million. This will enable East Suffolk to invest constructively in the local area, enabling and delivering new opportunities for housing, tourism and more.
Cllr Steve Gallant, Leader of East Suffolk Council is pleased that the hard work of Councillors and officers has ensured that a range of concerns have now been addressed. He said: “We are maintaining a neutral position on the project in our final submission to the Examination, however, we do welcome and have fought hard for a range of mitigation packages.
“We have achieved a number of revisions to the proposal, should it go ahead, including additional landscaping and tree planting, design revisions to a crossing over a protected site and landscape, noise and ecological improvements to the design of associated developments.
“We have also ensured that the developer would make greater use of rail and sea to reduce the numbers of HGVs on the district’s roads and the acceptance of a robust and detailed Rail Noise Mitigation Scheme to mitigate for overnight rail noise on the East Suffolk Line.
“In addition, we have supported local parishes in working with the applicant to achieve improvements to their local highway networks including at Leiston, Wickham Market, Marlesford, Little Glemham and Yoxford.”
Meanwhile, the agreed financial package includes a £12 million Housing Fund (with a £9m contingency element), to boost private housing and tourist accommodation supply as well as supporting housing and homelessness services. It also includes a £12m Tourism Fund to promote and support local tourism interests during construction and a £1.6m Public Services Resilience Fund which will be used to support and promote community cohesion and safety in East Suffolk.
In addition, East Suffolk Council - on behalf of the project - will be constructing, delivering and managing a new 3G sports pitch for shared use between workers, Alde Valley Academy pupils and the local community and will receive a further £4m for economic development purposes to support the business communities in East Suffolk during Construction.
East Suffolk Council has also been instrumental in agreeing the Natural Environment Fund of £12m to be established to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment, and the Applicant has agreed to pay £23m into a Sizewell C Community Fund, which will be administered by the Suffolk Community Foundation.
Cllr Gallant continued: “We have worked really hard to secure considerable investment in East Suffolk and the wider area and we are satisfied, if the Secretary of State grants consent for the Sizewell C project, that a scheme will be delivered which optimises the benefits and minimises any adverse impacts for East Suffolk.
“Ultimately, this is not our decision, however our role is to ensure that the communities of East Suffolk are put first and we believe that these packages and mitigation measures fulfil that undertaking.”
There now follows a three-month time period for the Examining Authority to write their report to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and then a further three-month period for the Secretary of State to make a final decision about the project.