The parish of Theberton and Eastbridge has a population of barely 400. As they stand, EDF Energy’s proposals to build Sizewell C & D would change this small country parish into an industrial town.
We live in a deeply rural landscape surrounded by fragile Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) land, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and the Suffolk Heritage Coast. The sheer scale of the project – the largest building project ever proposed in East Anglia – is out of proportion with the setting. Indeed, will EDF eventually need even more land? Compare: Hinkley site platform for two reactors is 67.5 hectares. Sizewell site platform is 32 ha. Hinkley total construction compound is 175 ha. Sizewell is 140 ha, excluding roads, buffer zones, and accommodation.
Why so long?
The period of construction is estimated to last at least 10 years, although based on EDF Energy’s Flamanville project it could last up to 15 years. Why does EDF need so long? There is inadequate information about EDF’s plans to invest in the local infrastructure, to help support it to cope with the increase in pressure on health services (already stretched), social activities and road transport among many other issues, for a generation or more. (image above is an official impression of accommodation planned for Hinkley Point C)
Why house 2,400 workers on the edge of a hamlet of 100 people?
It is difficult to comprehend why so little attention has been paid to the negative impact of housing up to 2,400 workers in a single site beside our parish (EDF’s preferred option). No amount of ‘mitigation’ will adequately protect the people of the immediate vicinity. Whatever the onsite facilities, the reality is that the workers will leave the site when not on shift. Codes of good conduct will not prevent anti-social behaviour, such as was commonplace in Leiston when Sizewell B was built. EDF wants to be a ‘good neighbour’, but these are empty words in relation to their plans for accommodation. Any comparable commercial planning application for a small town in this location would surely be ridiculed, even in these days of ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’. Consider, too, the comparison with Hinkley in Somerset:
Sizewell – Single-site accommodation for 2,400 beside a hamlet of 100, 3.2km from Leiston (pop c 6,000)
Hinkley – 500 workers adjacent to the construction site. No other workers within 4km of build site, 1,000 housed in Bridgewater (pop 35,800) some 16km away, on two brownfield sites.
Why can’t Sizewell follow this model? Serious consideration must urgently be seen to be given to housing the workers in smaller units, dispersed over a wider area and attached to small towns. In such a model, workers could more easily engage with, rather than overwhelm, the local communities, it would spread the social impact and benefit more local businesses. We also believe, given information from Hinkley, that Suffolk Coastal District and County Councils should be pressing EDF to provide legacy housing, which would go some way to compensate the area and demonstrate a genuine commitment to sustainability.
What will be the effect of noise and light pollution?
If a single accommodation site goes ahead, local people will be disturbed by noise 24/7, from the workers’ accommodation, from building work and from constant traffic movements, especially on the B1122 and side roads. It beggars belief that we could be pacified with double-glazing, as has been suggested. We want to be able to enjoy our gardens, to have windows open, and to walk in the quiet of the countryside. Only about 10 per cent of the country still enjoys real darkness at night, a very big factor in quality of life – all the more reason to protect the precious dark starry nights over Eastbridge, as recognised by CPRE’s campaign for dark skies (‘Our quality of life is being reduced by light pollution.’)