Daily Telegraph article on letter from Suffolk residents about Sizewell C impacts

This article was published on Telegraph.co.uk on March 20, 2019

By Patrick Sawer, Senior News Reporter

A coalition of actors, broadcasters and entrepreneurs is warning that building work to replace Sizewell nuclear power station will “lay waste” to swathes of Suffolk’s most idyllic landscape.

Bill Turnbull, the broadcaster; actors Bill Nighy and Diana Quick; the novelist Esther Freud and renowned sculptor Maggi Hambling are among those voicing their opposition to the movement of tons of construction materials and waste to and from the site.

They say the plans could mean 1,500 lorries a day thundering through the quiet Suffolk countryside, with construction work disrupting the lives of residents and carving up farms and communities for years to come.

The energy giant EDF Energy, which runs the Sizewell A and B nuclear power stations, is currently completing a public consultation exercise on plans to build a new replacement plant, Sizewell C, before submitting an application for development consent, with building work on the estimated £14 billion project due to start in 2021.

In an open letter published in today’s Daily Telegraph opponents say the plans will not only threaten an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), but also jeopardise the area’s lucrative tourism industry.

Campaigners, who also include Matthew Freud, the PR guru, Melvin Benn, who runs the Latitude music festival and Humphrey Burton, the classical music presenter and broadcaster, say the plans also threaten the viability of a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the area, along with the RSPB’s famous Minsmere Reserve.

David Wood, chairman of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB said: “The impact will be phenomenal. This is a designated national park that will be virtually cut in two for a minimum of 10 years.

“This is a fragile and beautiful landscape worth many millions a year in tourism and the impact will be devastating.”

The row comes after EDF announced its construction plans would involve transporting materials for the project by road to and from the A12 rather than by sea.

Previous proposals to transport the material along the coast, to and from a jetty at the site, were scrapped in the light of fears over the impact on marine wildlife and protected seabirds.

In the letter the campaigners, who also include Andy Wood, the chief executive of Adnams, the Suffolk brewery and hotelier, and actor Helen Atkinson-Wood, state: “We are deeply concerned that EDF Energy’s Sizewell C plans will lay waste to large portions of this rich and diverse part of the country.

“Landscapes, wildlife and residents of this unique part of the British Isles will suffer enormously.”

It adds: “This is not hyperbole – the level of disruption will jeopardise tourism to the AONB, valued at more than £210m/year, as holidaymakers no longer associate the area with peace and tranquillity, and seek to avoid traffic chaos caused by the construction of Sizewell C.”

Andy Wood told The Telegraph: “It’s not that I’m against new nuclear, it’s that I’m against the scale of this. It puts at serious risk the tourism economy that has grown substantially over the years.”

Among those who say their lives will be turned upside down by the building work is Paul Field, a tech entrepreneur who lives eight miles from the Sizewell plant.

He says EDF is planning to build a busy construction depot just yards from his family’s farmhouse, where he lives with his wife Michaela and their three daughters, effectively slashing thousands of pounds off the value of his property.

Mr Field, a former newspaper executive, says that their lives will be made a misery by the construction work.

“The last thing Michaela and I want for our daughters is the upheaval of moving from a home we love, but we accept there is no alternative,” he said. “EDF admits we will suffer ‘significant adverse effects’ from noise. At the peak of construction, 1,500 HGVs and 6,000 other vehicles would thunder past each day.”

EDF Energy said that it "takes  its responsibilities to the environment and local communities seriously" and that it had a  "good track record of looking after nature around our operating power station at Sizewell B". 

It added: "The environmental sensitivities of the local area have been a key consideration in the development of our proposals for Sizewell C.  Our ecologists have continued to undertake environmental surveys and identify likely impacts to help inform our proposals.  Our planners have worked with local councils to develop a transport strategy for workers and freight that minimises the impact on local roads.

"We understand that how our workers travel to site and how we move freight is important to local people during construction.  We will use rail as well as road transport and a beach landing facility to move freight.  Our aim is to maximise the huge benefits in jobs and skills for local people, especially the young, whilst minimising the environmental impact of the project."

The letter in full

Sir – 
At £14 billion, the cost of building Sizewell C is huge, but there will be a much heavier price to pay on Suffolk’s beautiful heritage coast and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The impact on protected sites will be devastating.

Sizewell has been home to nuclear energy for almost 60 years, so it was no surprise that the site was selected for further development. 
But what is being proposed is of a very different order to what has gone before. Sizewell C is planned to be as big as Sizewell A and Sizewell B put together, with woodland and fields destroyed to make way for it. 

The recent collapse of nuclear projects at Moorside and Wylfa has brought Sizewell C to the top of the nuclear queue. With stage three of EDF’s consultations drawing to a close, the impact of the project is now known to be far greater than previously thought. We are deeply concerned that landscapes, wildlife and people in this unique part of the British Isles will suffer enormously.

For the past six years EDF has said that the materials for this enormous project could be substantially delivered by sea. But the company now says this is not possible due to the potential damage to the marine environment. So up to 1,500 lorries a day could soon be clogging Suffolk’s roads, delivering construction materials, disrupting the lives of residents and jeopardising the area’s £210 million a year tourism industry for the decade or more that it will take to build the plant. 

In short, we believe that Sizewell C will industrialise a region known for its beauty, wildness and tranquillity. If the project cannot be delivered by sea and by rail, without encroaching on Suffolk’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Minsmere Reserve and the heritage coast, and carving up farms and communities, it should not be delivered at all.

William Kendall, Entrepreneur
Dr Andy Wood, OBE DL, Chief Executive, Adnams plc
Bill Turnbull, Broadcaster 
Diana Quick, Actor
Cllr David Wood, Chairman, Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Partnership
Harry Young, Chair of The Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation 
Caroline Cranbrook OBE, 
Bill Nighy, Actor
Maggi Hambling, CBE, Painter and Sculptor
The Rt Hon Ben Gummer
Matthew Freud, Head of Freud Communications
Guy Heald, Chairman, Hotel Folk 
Michael Pritt, Owner, Wentworth Hotel, Aldeburgh
Hektor Rous, Henham Park
Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Latitude Festival
Ruth Watson, Restaurater and Hotelier
Richard Ellis, Chairman of Original Cottages
Sir Kenneth Carlisle & Lady Carla Carlisle
Rev. Canon Christine Redgrave, Rector of the 8 parishes of the Yoxmere Benefice 
Kenneth Sillito, FRAM, Artistic Director and violinist and Esmé Sillito, LRAM
Esther Freud, Novelist
Humphrey Burton, CBE, Writer and Broadcaster and Christine Burton 
Helen Atkinson Wood, Actor
Mark Hoare RIBA, Architect
Paul Field, Tech Entrepreneur and Free Word trustee