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Suffolk Councils response to Sizewell C proposals

Posted by on 1 March 2019 | Comments

Suffolk Councils are disappointed by EDF Energy’s lack of detailed proposals call on energy firm to work collaboratively to demonstrate the value of the proposed development.

Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council today published their proposed joint authority response to EDF Energy’s Stage 3 public consultation plans for a new nuclear site on Suffolk’s east coast.

The joint report makes it clear that whilst 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, both councils are disappointed that EDF Energy’s plans have not evolved as much as they had hoped between consultation stages 2 and 3. This means both councils are still not yet able to fully support the proposals. The joint proposed response will be considered by the councils’ respective Cabinet meeting on Monday 11 March and Tuesday 12 March.

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. The construction site would take up to 300 hectares of land, largely within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The development’s workforce would be 5,600 at its peak, plus another 500 in supporting roles. 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.

With a project of such size and scale, the two local authorities need to be absolutely clear that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages before they offer their full support. Both authorities currently believe that a number of the impacts identified in EDF Energy’s proposals are still not yet developed or evidenced sufficiently, so Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council are calling for EDF Energy to be collaborative and share more detail and information to satisfy current concerns. The offer is there to work with EDF Energy to help them develop their proposals and to resolve the necessary mitigation, in advance of their submission of an application to the Planning Inspectorate.  It is in all parties’ interest that the Sizewell C development becomes a proposition which can work in and for Suffolk.

Proposals for Sizewell C will be considered under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process which is part of the Planning Act 2008. The planning application will be examined by the Planning Inspectorate who will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It will be the Secretary of State who makes the decision on whether the proposal will be approved.

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 new East Suffolk Council, will, as local planning authority, 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.

Suffolk Coastal District Councillor Geoff Holdcroft, Chairman of the Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG) said:

“We have studied EDF Energy’s third round of proposals thoroughly and I have to say that we are rather disappointed. The consultation documentation is not as comprehensive as we had hoped to see and lacks evidence in several important areas. This means we are unable to fully consider the full impact on our communities in some key areas. I do accept that progress has been made since round two, with EDF Energy expanding particular choices and proposals. We commend EDF Energy for that but, as this is considered the final stage of consultation, we had asked for more detail than what we are seeing here and would encourage EDF Energy to work with us and to be more open with the community.

“This has left us in the unfortunate position that we remain unable to fully to evaluate how adequate the proposed mitigation proposals are. As statutory consultees in this process we represent many local communities which will be affected by this development. We want to see delivery of the best outcomes for the area, should this development go ahead in the future.” 

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

“We were hoping to be in a position at the stage three consultation to give a firm and conclusive position on EDF Energy’s proposals, based on a suitable level of detail and evidence. It is disappointing that we are not there yet.

We know from local knowledge and the feedback we have received through well informed community representation that some of the proposed impacts on the environment and our towns and villages would prove greater than which EDF Energy currently predicts. We want to work with them to explore these aspects in much greater detail so we can be sure that the true impact is understood. Only then can we draw our conclusive view on whether the benefits of this project outweigh the disadvantages.”

EDF Energy’s stage 3 consultation closes on Friday 29 March 2019. Visit their website to learn more about the proposals and take part in the consultation at sizewell.edfenergyconsultation.info.