EDF has now submitted its planning application for Sizewell C.
The Society is very concerned that The Planning Inspectorate is proceeding with its examination of this whilst we are in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic. We therefore wrote to them expressing our views, the substantive content of which is set out below.
The Aldeburgh Society is the civic society for the historic coastal town and cultural centre of Aldeburgh. The objects of the Society are to encourage public interest in and care for the character of the town and its surroundings, and the preservation, development and improvement of general public amenity in the area.
The Society wishes to express its opposition to the application by EDF for Development Consent for the construction of two new nuclear reactors at Sizewell in present circumstances, while coronavirus lockdown restrictions are in place precluding the normal conduct of a Planning Inspectorate Examination. The proposed development is enormously controversial, and the fullest possible provision must be made for all aspects and views to be considered. This is particularly important since the Planning Inspectorate are already charged with examining the application by Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) for the development of two offshore windfarms and their onshore infrastructure, which would seriously impact the same geographical area of Suffolk.
We accept that the location of the proposed new nuclear power station has been determined by the Government, and we understand the logic of co-locating it with the existing nuclear facilities at Sizewell. The Society has no collective view for or against nuclear power, and it supports the Government’s net zero target for energy production. However, it views with great concern the damage to the Suffolk heritage coast, its environment, its society and its economy, which the construction of this very large industrial project would entail. If there were no existing nuclear power station on this coast, the proposal to develop one here would be unthinkable in today’s heightened awareness of environmental issues.
The Sizewell site is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, adjacent to a major national nature reserve at Minsmere. While extensive public consultations were carried out over the last four years, we understand that concerns raised by the Environment Agency, the Marine Management Organisation and Natural England have still not been fully addressed.
We are greatly concerned that the very large volumes of construction materials required for a project of this size would have to be delivered over a rural roads system, causing environmental damage, noise and disruption to the whole area. More environmentally friendly options for delivery of materials by rail or sea appear to be largely ruled out. It is unacceptable that plans for the management of this traffic have not been agreed with the local authorities. The simultaneous application by SPR, involving further major pressures on the same local infrastructure, makes a coherent integrated approach indispensable.
The construction project would inevitably have a seriously damaging effect upon the tourism business and the cultural offerings for which Aldeburgh is renowned and upon which its local economy is largely based. We therefore urge the Planning Inspectorate to pause the examination of the Sizewell C application until the pandemic lockdown is eased sufficiently to allow a normal full consultative process.
19 June 2020