Sizewell C protest groups insist: ‘we are here to stay and we won’t be silenced’
Campaigners are rallying with renewed determination to protect Suffolk from the unwanted consequences they fear a new nuclear power plant will bring.
24 November 2016, Andrew Hirst
EDF Energy’s long-awaited stage-two consultation for Sizewell C was met yesterday with dismay from communities neighbouring the proposed multibillion pound development site.
Campaign groups criticised the latest 300-page consultation as merely a “box-ticking exercise” which ignores objections raised four years ago.
While there was some support for the inclusion of a “two-villages bypass” on the A12 around Stratford St Andrew and Farnham, other elements of the proposals left campaigners “underwhelmed”. Concerns focused on the accommodation campus proposed for 2,500 temporary workers near Minsmere nature reserve, which residents say will have a “massive impact” on the neighbouring rural communities and environment.
EDF’s preferred road transport route along the B1122 has also provoked alarm for residents, who say it is “wholly unsuitable” for the volume of traffic expected during construction. Campaigners said they had called on EDF to come up with “creative solutions” to these problems and were left “disheartened” by the latest offer.
EDF stressed this was only the second of a three-stage consultation process to ensure “local communities have every opportunity to engage”.
But after four years, many of those gathered yesterday at the impromptu campaign headquarters at the Eel’s Foot in Eastbridge said they had expected EDF to provide greater detail and evidence for their proposals. With only “preliminary assessments” they say it is impossible to provide an informed response.
Members of the Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS), B1122 Action Group and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group, will be teaming up to hold exhibitions, titled “A Better Route to Sizewell C” alongside EDF’s own consultation events scheduled for the coming weeks.
Su Swallow, co-chairman of TEAGS, said: “We’re disappointed by the lack of movement from EDF. We’ve been pressing them for a long time to think of more creative solutions about how they will handle the workers’ accommodation and transport issues and yet there’s been no shift in what they propose.”
Alison Downes, TEAGS’ other co-chairman, added: “What has EDF been doing for the last four years since stage one? They have kicked the can down the road on these vital issues, making it very difficult for the public to respond.”
TEAGS John Price said it seemed the small neighbouring communities “did not feature in EDF’s calculations”. However, he warned: “We are here to stay and we won’t be silenced.”
Charles Macdowell, of the B1122 Action Group, said he had been left “underwhelmed” by the proposals, which ignored his group’s suggestions for a new transport route, departing the A12 from near Saxmundham.
He said the narrow B1122 from Yoxford to the site, was “wholly unsuitable” for the 1,300 daily lorry movements predicted, which represented a “staggering” 722% increase on current levels.
“I would not call this a proper consultation,” he added. “It’s just a box-ticking exercise.”
A spokesman for EDF said the company was looking forward to hearing local views on its latest plans.
“It is important to stress that this is the second stage of a three stage consultation process to ensure local communities have every opportunity to engage with us,” the spokesman added.
The company said it had a statutory requirement to demonstrate consultation with local communities, adding that feedback from stage one had led to it developing a preferred position on some of the key elements of the proposals, whilst other parts of the plans remain as options.