At a ‘standing room only’ debate on the impacts of Sizewell C at Theberton Church on Sunday evening (4 June), the loudest applause went to Lynda Whitbread, a local resident who threatened to lie down in front of EDF’s trucks if she had to.
The Question Time-style event was convened by three local campaign groups and featured four of the five candidates standing for the Suffolk Coastal constituency in Thursday’s election: Cameron Matthews (Labour), Eamonn O’Nolan (Green), James Sandbach (Liberal Democrats) and Philip Young (Independent). The incumbent MP Therese Coffey sent a statement saying that “out of respect for the victims of (the London) terrorist attack, I do not feel it appropriate to be publicly campaigning”. Bill Turnbull, broadcaster, journalist and local resident chaired the debate.
231 local residents from Yoxford, Middleton, Westleton, Theberton and Eastbridge, and from as far afield as Woodbridge, crammed into the 12th-century church. They asked passionate and occasionally angry questions about the planned Sizewell C nuclear power station, including road safety, workers’ accommodation, the environment and nuclear power in general. EDF’s secrecy in not releasing data on coastal erosion data or property impacts was also highlighted, as was the potential of a new Relief Road.
Independent Philip Young said that he was against Sizewell A, let alone B and C, and that “from a moral and environmental point of view, nuclear is a disaster and very expensive.” Describing himself as ‘colourful’, he said “can’t we create green jobs and tourism jobs rather than have disastrous high impact construction for 10 years?”
James Sandbach (Liberal Democrats) stated that he was not anti-nuclear, but had an open mind. “Looking at the evidence… the burdens and costs far outweigh the benefits, so I am against Sizewell C,” he said, quoting “huge costs” and “the massive impacts concerning the environment, roads and campus”. If it is to be built, a Relief Road was “essential”.
Eamonn O’Nolan (Green) said that Suffolk people are sometimes too subtle. “We need to make our voices heard. Be unreasonable – activate, activate, activate.” He mentioned that anti-fracking protesters are using ‘Lock Ons’ which allow four or five people to chain themselves across a road, and which take several hours to remove.
Labour’s Cameron Matthews expressed concern about lack of emergency services and called for Sizewell traffic to be “taken off the roads” with new road safety measures. He said that “any accommodation should be able to be converted to social housing. Temporary is a waste of money – we could spread out the accommodation by moving it south towards Ipswich as an example.”
Conservative Therese Coffey’s response to Sizewell C’s recent consultation was read out, in which she urged EDF to “conduct a full appraisal of alternative (accommodation) sites prior to Stage 3 consultation, and “set out in detail… why (road) options explored for Sizewell B, namely the D2 route, haven’t been investigated for Sizewell C.”
The event was convened by B1122 Action Group, Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group. A full write-up of the proceedings can be read online at http://bit.ly/SZCDebate
For comment and photos contact:
Charles Macdowell, B1122 Action Group, 07788 755300
Alison Downes, Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell, 07711 843884.