The combined effect of a massive increase in traffic, and the huge influx of workers, will be completely out of scale with the area. A small country parish will be turned into an industrial city. How can the current proposals be justified?
Road: EDF Energy has still not published any traffic modelling information, and no plans have been tabled for major improvements in road access to the site, which to all intents and purposes is served by just one road, the B1122. However, the B1122 is still little more than a rural lane, suffering ever-worsening degradation to its surface and substructure, yet it is expected to carry the vast majority of traffic and material for Sizewell C – a double reactor site several times larger than B. How can the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken on the East Coast possibly be adequately served by the B1122?
Surveys have revealed significant concerns among the residents living along or close to this road about the impact of the construction traffic over a build period of 10 years or more. The noise, pollution, vibration, congestion, increase in accidents, potential damage to Theberton’s historic round-tower church and other listed buildings and, inevitably, the possibility of traffic gridlock in the surrounding area, are major issues. Such disruption would also affect the construction programme itself, as none of the detours are capable of supporting heavy traffic, from either a wear or capacity standpoint – any more than the B1122 can.
Delays already occur at the B1122 junction with the A12 at Yoxford, for example when Sizewell A and B workers are changing shifts, and gives some indication of what the road would be like at even the best of times once construction of Sizewell C started. Add the effect of agricultural vehicles, any holiday traffic not deterred by construction and special events such as Latitude, and movement would all but cease. There is no evidence that a roundabout, which Yoxford residents are understandably concerned about, road realignment, traffic lights or other scheme will resolve this issue.
A new means of access, direct to the site from a suitable stretch of the A12, was envisaged as necessary for Sizewell B. Several variants were drawn up, of which D2 was the most advantageous. In the event, it was not built. Now with the infinitely greater burden represented by Sizewell C and increased awareness of adequate safety measures following Fukushima, the case for the new road is surely indisputable. Its cost, weighed against that of the build scheme as a whole, is insignificant, and would ensure good uninterrupted lines of supply to the site, vastly improved safety and significant savings in fuel and time. It would also lessen the negative impact on the daily well-being of the majority of residents in Yoxford, Middleton, Middleton Moor, Theberton and Eastbridge, as well as obviating the inconvenience caused by detours, when the B1122 is not usable, to those living in Westleton, Leiston and Saxmundham. We welcome the news that a desk-top study of an updated ‘D2’ was made by Suffolk Country Council and we believe there is a strong case for this new road to be built now, on safety grounds alone. But if Sizewell C is to proceed, the new road has to be in place before work starts at the site.
Sea: EDF Energy plans a jetty some 1,500 metres long, with uncertain effect on currents and longshore drift – already a serious problem on that stretch of coastline. Whilst we welcome the principle of bringing in freight by sea, evidence must be provided to show it would not exacerbate risks to our fragile coastline (see Section 1 Environmental Issues). We further wonder how bad weather will affect its use, and whether poor weather – such as we have experienced in the winter of 2013/2014 – would mean resorting to additional road transport in order to maintain supplies?
Rail: Much store has been placed on the construction of a railhead to alleviate road transport to the site. But there appear to be significant restrictions in terms of the number of trains and their size. These could be addressed if there was political will to maximise the use of rail as a means of passenger and freight transport. Doubling the rail-track between the Leiston railhead to Ipswich, and a return chord at the Saxmundham junction, to allow traffic to and from Lowestoft, would increase freight capacity, potentially allow passenger services to be reintroduced to Leiston and the site, would support a strategy of a broader geographic spread of workers and provide what could be a lasting legacy for Leiston and the surrounding area after construction has been completed.