Our formal response to Stage 3 Consultation
This is the full text of our submission to the Stage 3 Consultation, which has been copied to the Planning Inspectorate, Suffolk County Council and Dr Therese Coffey MP.
Sizewell C Stage 3 Pre-Application Consultation Formal Response
Consultee: Paul and Michaela Field, Fir Tree Farm, Main Road, Kelsale, Saxmundham IP17 2RH.
Property also referred to as Land Parcel SK322376
March 28, 2019
Section 1: Executive Summary
We consider that the Stage 3 consultation process is materially flawed, and EDF has failed to conduct it in a fair and reasonable way.
1.1. After consulting for more than six years on a transport strategy during Stages 1 and 2, EDF introduced entirely new transport options at Stage 3 and yet gave stakeholders less than three months in which to respond to them. This volte face alone constitutes a failure to run a meaningful consultation, and one which is in breach of Section 47 (7) of the Planning Act 2008.
1.2. The consultation has also been understaffed and poorly resourced – a fact supported by a senior EDF official quoted in this formal submission.
1.3. The consultation has been conducted in an unprofessional way. We have personally been subjected to ridicule and hostility by senior members of EDF’s Sizewell C Project Development leadership team, both in public and privately.
1.4. The consultation has been based on grossly inadequate technical information. We advise in the strongest terms that EDF runs a fourth consultation stage once they have conducted further studies it admits are required prior to any DCO application.
1.5. In the case of the Sizewell Link Road, the other possible routes should be given due consideration, especially Route W given that Suffolk County Council has specifically requested that EDF explore it as a potentially superior alternative route.
1.6. The development proposals are lacking detail and clarity in multiple areas, but especially in relation to the proposed Sizewell Link Road under EDF’s road-led strategy where there is strong evidence that EDF has failed to discharge its statutory duty to consult.
While our principal issue is with EDF’s under-resourced, discriminatory and badly run Stage 3 consultation, we are also not satisfied that the benefits of Sizewell C outweigh the harm this enormous project will inflict on Suffolk as a whole, and particularly East Suffolk.
2.1. We are very concerned about the environmental impacts of the scheme, most notably on an AONB.
We were immediately and severely impacted by the announcement of the proposals due to our distressing family circumstances – a fact EDF has not only chosen to ignore but has compounded with inconsistent communications. Our circumstances offer a clear example of the need for EDF to have in place clear proposals for mitigating the impacts of its new access solution, including through an ‘exceptional hardship’ scheme.
3.1. We have suffered significant financial loss as a result of the announcement of EDF’s plans – another fact EDF has chosen to ignore.
3.2. It is also grossly unfair that EDF has failed to publish an ‘exceptional hardship’ scheme, given that stakeholders have suffered material financial losses as a consequence of the proposals being published.
In addition, EDF’s refusal to fund stakeholders to respond fully to the proposals discriminates against those without the means to interrogate the scheme with professional support. This has resulted in feedback vital to a fair and reasonable process not being provided.
It should be a cause of alarm for the UK that the technology proposed for the two reactors is unproven outside of Taishan in China, which only went operational in December 2018. As such, no evidence exists to support the safety of the two reactors. It is therefore premature to proceed with Sizewell C while this remains the case, and the argument for renewables generating electricity at a lower strike price becomes more and more compelling.
EDF should urgently address the multiple shortcomings in its development proposals and its approach to the pre-application consultation process within a reasonable timeframe to allow stakeholders to respond ahead of any DCO application.
Section 2: Overview of our role as a consultee and a party affected by the proposals
We are Paul and Michaela Field, of Fir Tree Farm, Main Road, Kelsale, IP17 2RH.
We have been identified as a consultee under Section 42 of the Planning Act 2008 as we own, occupy or have a legal interest in land which EDF Energy has identified as being required for its proposals.
Our property is specifically referenced twice in Volume 1 – Development Proposals, and six times in Volume 2A – Preliminary Environmental Information as it is located immediately north of and adjacent to the proposed construction compound for the proposed Sizewell Link Road.
We bought Fir Tree Farm in October 2013. Fir Tree Farm is a single detached family dwelling located just off the A12 (Main Road), located between Kelsale and Yoxford. The property is accessed from the A12 down a private road and due to trees and hedgerows is not visible from the A12. The site has no immediate neighbours and does not overlook any other properties.
What drew us to the property was its secluded position and the tranquility it offered. We have previously lived in London, Dublin and New York. When we decided it was time to put down roots, moving from the city to the country, we chose Fir Tree Farm.
The building does not fall under any Conservation Areas and is not listed but the local authority classifies it as a Non-Designated Heritage Asset due to the farmhouse having been constructed in the 17th century. This classification placed limitations on our plans to develop the property.
We bought Fir Tree Farm with the intention of making it our family home for many decades to come, and we have made a considerable investment in the maintenance and enhancement of the existing property.
We have three daughters aged 14, 13 and 11, and ageing parents whom we expect to need to accommodate at Fir Tree Farm in the near future. One of our fathers has [REDACTED] and the other has [REDACTED], and with our mothers being the sole carers we had agreed with them that we would provide alternative accommodation to provide respite care.
As a consequence of the fundamental need to provide accommodation suitable for our parents, the property as it stands does not meet our needs as a family. We require more space and specifically ground floor accommodation.
As such, we worked with architects, the local planning authority and the conservation officer for East Suffolk from September 2017 to September 2018 to conceive a plan that would secure planning permission. We were successful in December 2018, and the approved development was for a ground floor extension of the farmhouse, the construction of a new barn and cart lodge, and new landscaping.
The planning application and subsequent permission can be found here:
We also made a commitment to making it a more sustainable and environmentally sympathetic location. We were intending, as part of the works, to make a substantial investment in various sustainability schemes. Last year we bought a fully electric car and planned to install an air source or ground source pump, solar panels and a sustainable wastewater treatment system, as part of the proposed construction works.
As the following section (3) sets out, disclosure of EDF’s plans immediately had a significant impact on our family. On January 7, 2019, we received a letter dated January 4, 2019 from Jim Crawford (the Project Development Director) which referred to Fir Tree Farm as Land Parcel SK322376 (the Title Number of the property) and stated that we had been identified as a consultee under section 42 of the Planning Act 2008 as we ‘own, occupy or have a legal interest in land which EDF Energy has identified as being required’ for its proposals.
As Section 6 of this document explains, EDF has failed to date to properly consult with us over the land it requires for its proposals. Our recent and substantial investment of time, money and – perhaps more importantly – our mothers’ hope in the redevelopment of Fir Tree Farm exemplifies the gross inadequacy of EDF’s consultation on its entirely new transport solution.
Section 3: Personal impacts of the failure to properly consult on the newly proposed road-led strategy development on our property
On November 27, 2018, Tom McGarry, Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Sizewell C, and Beth Winstone, of Ardent, invited us to a meeting at EDF’s London head office. They disclosed their plans for the Sizewell Link Road, under their Road-Led Strategy.
As soon as this disclosure was made, our development plans for Fir Tree Farm were thwarted.
Having instructed a planning lawyer and a chartered surveyor specialising in CPO and sought the views of local estate agents, we were advised that any further investment in the property would not be reflected in its future value as a consequence of EDF’s plans. Furthermore, prior to the public release of EDF’s Sizewell C development proposals we were advised of the property’s valuation and warned that the publication of the plans would significantly reduce the value of the property and indeed our ability to sell the property, if at all.
This was utterly devastating for our immediate and extended family. The immediate economic impact meant further investment in the property was unjustifiable, which in turn meant that our publicly stated plans to provide ground floor living accommodation for our elderly parents were thwarted. This has caused immeasurable stress and anxiety to us as a couple, our children, our parents and our extended family.
This distress and upset has been severely compounded by the way in which EDF has consulted with us, especially as we have been reasonable at all times – and these facts will be explored in Section 4 of this document.
In addition, and separate to the loss in value of our home, we have suffered other financial loss.
All of the money we invested in our development proposals and successfully seeking planning permission would have to gone to waste, if EDF were to obtain the DCO with the road-led strategy.
The time involved in responding to and chasing EDF in a reasonable manner, in seeking a remedy to our family situation, has resulted in a significant loss of earnings over four months, given the fact we work for ourselves.
We have also spent a considerable amount of money on professional advisors – around £20,000 to date. These are costs which EDF has flatly refused to cover, despite the fact they are a direct consequence of its late-in-the-day re-invention of its transport strategy and failure to consult with us in a timely, fair and reasonable way, as well as the fact the Stage 3 development proposals, in their current form, are based on desktop study and report only preliminary EIA findings.
We believe all third parties, including ourselves, should be given the resource by EDF to interrogate their scheme. Without this, we fail to see how EDF has been able to comply with the statutory consultation duty.
In conclusion, the late publication of EDF’s radically new transport strategy has had a hugely negative impact on our lives and mental health, despite us having acted reasonably at all times.
Section 4: Environmental impacts of the newly proposed road-led strategy development on our property
This section will provide commentary on aspects of the preliminary EIA. It is worth highlighting that is is very unsatisfactory that EDF has only provided the results of a desktop study related to the preferred Route Z South.
By EDF’s own admission in point 1.1.6. of the Vol 2a of the proposals, ‘the level of detail available for each element of the scheme varies somewhat, for example, the PEI for some of the roads proposals has been informed to date by desk studies but this approach still allows a clear indication of the likely signiﬁcant effects to inform the Stage 3 consultation’. This paucity of detail at Stage 3 when the proposals (especially those relating to the Sizewell Link Road) have been introduced to the consultation for the first time is unacceptable and represents a failure of EDF to properly consult with stakeholders.
However, as point 1.1.7. states, ‘in broad terms, the majority of the signiﬁcant adverse effects identiﬁed’ are ‘either likely to remain signiﬁcant at the ES stage or will be addressed by further mitigation measures to reduce the likely signiﬁcance of effects’.
Given this background, the preliminary EIA findings relating to Fir Tree Farm are extremely alarming, particularly in light of the acceptance that meaningful mitigation measures are unlikely to avoid these significant adverse effects.
Fir Tree Farm is identified as one of the closest residential properties to the route.
Indeed we have been variously informed that our land has been identified as being required by EDF for its proposals, but also that it is not required.
i. Noise and Vibration
Baseline noise and vibration surveys for the Sizewell Link Road have yet to be undertaken, which means stakeholders are unable to respond properly to the Stage 3 consultation documents.
However, a number of residential properties are identified as being likely to be noise impacted by site compound activities and construction works.
Table 5.7.1. of Vol 2a shows Fir Tree Farm as a noise and vibration receptor.
Fir Tree Farm is affected not only by the proposed Sizewell Link Road but also by the proposed location of the main construction compound for the road, which is shown in Figure 10.3 of Vol 1.
Paragraph 5.13.20. of Vol 2a states that ‘at peak, 175 HGVs per day would serve the construction compounds… Up to 300 construction staff would be working on the construction of the Sizewell link road at peak times.’
Paragraph 5.13.22. says ‘initial analysis suggests that the Sizewell link road would take about 24 months to build’.
As the draft joint response from Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council states, it is noted that 45,000 tonnes of fill are required to be brought through the compound for the proposed link road construction:
No details of total quantities or requirement to dispose of unsuitable fill off site are included (Vol. 1 paragraph 10.7.7). The Councils estimate that the road construction alone will require over 150,000 tonnes of material.
Paragraph 5.7.10. states that ‘noise from activities within the compound area and from road construction work would be likely to have a significant adverse effect on Fir Tree Farm’.
In table 5.7.2. the preliminary EIA confirms that even with screening the residual effects from the construction compound will be ‘significant noise effect’.
Given the comments of the councils and professional advice we have taken, we fear that noise impacts will be far greater than those suggested in the preliminary EIA.
For the avoidance of doubt, the distance between our house and the proposed construction compound is 35 metres. The most southerly point of the house is a conservatory-style extension which Michaela Field uses as her art studio – often with the doors and windows open due to the smell of the oils she uses for her work.
The distance between the extended house (for which planning permission is in place) and the boundary would be only 27.5 metres.
Given EDF’s preliminary EIA findings, it is important to highlight our personal circumstances.
Paul Field works from home several days a week, consulting for several businesses, and Michaela Field works from home all week, as a landscape artist (under her maiden name Michaela Latham).
On EDF’s timeline for the construction of the link road, our eldest daughter will be studying for her A Levels and our middle daughter will be studying for her GCSEs.
Furthermore, our youngest daughter has [REDACTED].
Given the fact the children attend an independent school where they attend school for 30 weeks a year and are required to study extensively at home, at weekends and during holidays, it is a reasonable assumption to make that their ability to study will be severely impacted by the location of construction compound, given that EDF admits that there would be ‘significant noise effects’ despite mitigation measures.
Paul Field has [REDACTED] and Michaela Field is [REDACTED]. Our middle daughter suffers [REDACTED]. We are very concerned that the activities from the construction compound will exacerbate these conditions.
Working hours and noise mitigation measures have not been presented within the Stage 3 development proposals, but it is our opinion, based on our personal circumstances and from seeking professional advice from highways and acoustics engineers that it will be untenable to reside at Fir Tree Farm during the construction phase of the Sizewell Link Road.
Lawrence Stringer, CEng MCIHT MRTPI, of GTA Civils, conducted an independent review of the development proposals for the Sizewell Link Road, and concluded that ‘it is arguable that the time-limited but significant adverse effects identified constitute a need to be acquired’ under the definition of EDF’s land acquisition approach in the main consultation document. See Appendix for Mr Stringer’s report.
If EDF is determined to pursue the road-led strategy and locate the construction compound in the field south of and adjacent to Fir Tree Farm, we will repeat our proposal that EDF must acquire Fir Tree Farm and compensate us accordingly. The proposed terms of the acquisition are set out in correspondence between us and EDF. To date, EDF has indicated in correspondence to us that no exceptional hardship scheme is proposed for Sizewell C.
The direct, early and significant impacts on our family demonstrate that the proposals as consulted upon are unacceptable in the absence of a reasonable, compassionate and transparent mechanism for dealing with exceptional cases.
ii. Light Pollution
In Vol 1 of the Development Proposals, 10.7.13. states that ‘the Sizewell link road is in a rural and naturally dark area with little or no public lighting. In such an environment it is not necessary, and it is usually inappropriate, to light roads between junctions and the junctions themselves may not generate traffic flows that warrant lighting.’
In its current state, Fir Tree Farm has no light pollution. Lights from vehicles using the A12 are obscured by the hedgerow to the west of the property and the scrubland provides a further barrier to any lights. There are no street lights on the A12 close to Fir Tree Farm. Indeed the rural area in which Fir Tree Farm is set is so dark that on clear nights the Milky Way is visible and satellites can be seen moving through the atmosphere.
Paragraph 10.7.14. explains that ‘the proposed Sizewell link road would require road lighting only at the A12 roundabout: the need for lighting arises since the new junction is in an intrinsically dark area and introduces a new deviation of the existing route.’
Paragraph 10.7.16. states the ‘proposed lighting would be designed to relevant technical standards. Lighting columns would typically be 10m in height. At 10m the lighting columns will be considerably higher than the hedgerow screening around Fir Tree Farm, and we believe it is inevitable that the property will suffer light pollution.
We are in no doubt that the current plans will spoil our enjoyment of the property – and the light pollution is likely to cause health issues for our youngest daughter, including disrupted sleep, as she sleeps in a bedroom which overlooks the field in which the proposed construction compound would be located.
The ecology and biodiversity reports included in this response highlight the harmful effects of the lighting columns on the environment of Fir Tree Farm.
Ecologist Diana Ward MSc CBiol MRSB MCIEEM is of the view:
The issue of potential impacts on bats is particularly strong around Fir Tree Farm due to lighting the proposed roundabout and the general noise and lighting of the construction compound. The full area should be subject to a bat survey of at least moderate, but potentially high, habitat suitability. This disturbance, particularly around the compound to the south of Fir Tree Farm, may not be readily solvable.
Full lighting mitigation should be sought to the highest standards ensuring that any lights are downward pointing with cowls, both for bats and also for the occupants of Fir Tree Farm.
Naturalist Jeremy Bowdrey, of the Kelsale-cum-Carlton Biodiversity Group, believes the impact of the lighting columns on Fir Tree Farm’s scrub habitat will be severe:
Other impacts on wildlife of a new road and associated construction infrastructure are light and noise pollution, both during construction and from street lighting and passing traffic after construction. These will have a profound effect on the scrub and associated areas nearby.
Light pollution is known to adversely affect foraging in some bat species as well as interfering with bird reproductive cycles and migration patterns. Nocturnal invertebrates can also suffer negative impacts from intense illumination sources.
It is important to note that in an ecology study conducted at Fir Tree Farm on May 4, 2018, which formed part of the planning permission for development of the property, ecologist Christian Whiting BSc (Hons) MSc MCIEEM MEECW gave clear direction that during both construction and upon completion of the proposed development, the use of lighting needed to be positioned to avoid illumination of retained habitats such as trees or hedgerows. Therefore, he stated, the following measures should be adopted to avoid light pollution impacts on bats:
Type of lamp (light source): Light levels should be as low as possible as required to fulfil the lighting need. Low or high-pressure sodium lamps should be used preferentially instead of mercury or metal halide lamps; and
Lighting design: Lighting should be directed to where it is needed, with no horizontal spillage towards existing trees. This can be achieved by restricting the height of the lighting columns and the design of the luminaire as follows:
Light columns in general should be as short as possible as light at a low level reduces the ecological impact.
However, if taller columns (>8m) are required, the use of cowls, hoods, reflector skirts or shields should be used to prevent horizontal spill.
The use of asymmetric beam floodlights (as opposed to symmetric) orientated so that the glass is parallel to the ground will ensure that the light is cast in a downward direction and avoids horizontal spillage; and
Movement sensors and timers should be used to minimise the ‘lit time’.
It is significant that this guidance was given, under the National Planning Policy Framework (2012), and related to a modest extension of the farmhouse and the construction of a barn and cart lodge.
It is our view that there is too little information given in Vol 1 and Vol 2a of the proposals related to air quality.
Paragraph 5.8.1. identifies Fir Tree Farm as one of the closest human receptors to the proposed link road, stating that the location is ‘within 700m of the proposed development’. This is disingenuous as the residential dwelling at Fir Tree Farm is, as stated earlier, only 35m from the proposed construction compound and the proposed link road is so close to the field to the west of the farmhouse on which our children play that a parcel of land is identified as being required by EDF for its proposals.
EDF details the likely impacts during the construction phase, which would most acute at the compound. Paragraph 5.8.9. says the ‘potential impacts associated with the construction of the Sizewell link road include fugitive emissions of dust, emissions from Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) on the site, emissions from Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) accessing the site and emissions from vehicles carrying workers to and from the site’.
Paragraph 5.8.10. adds that the ‘principal risk is anticipated to be related to both earthworks and track-out (the transit of material), as the earthworks phase of construction is expected to require a high volume of material to be moved. A high level of activity could potentially place the dust emissions category as ‘Large’ by IAQM classiﬁcation, with the likelihood of a ‘Medium’ risk based on the number and sensitivity of local receptors.
Paragraph 5.8.11. highlights that ‘each risk category has the potential to lead to proportional adverse, albeit temporary, impacts which have the potential to be signiﬁcant without mitigation’. It is self-evident that realistic mitigation measures do not exist for the air quality impacts of the proposals on our home.
During the operation of the link road, EDF admits in paragraph 5.8.14. that ‘there is potential for increases in pollutant concentrations at receptors located along the Sizewell link road during construction of Sizewell C. The primary source of these pollutants would be as a result of the additional vehicles using the link road for construction of Sizewell C’.
EDF claims air quality impacts arising from the construction phase would be ‘managed through a range of control measures detailed in a CEMP, supplemented by the measures appropriate to the level of risk designated to the proposed development under Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM) Guidance’.
However, no detail is given about the CEMP or what the mitigation measures would be.
This lack of detail is unacceptable under the NPPF, given EDF’s statutory duty to consult, especially as the proposals ignore the fact the link road will be open to non-SZC construction traffic and as such EDF will have no influence over other vehicle emissions.
Indeed, in their draft Stage 3 response, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council are damning of EDF’s assessment of air quality in relation not only to the link road but all aspects of its transport strategy.
In paragraph 76, SCC states:
There are no detailed assessment results for air quality presented in the Stage 3 Consultation documents on which the Councils can comment. We expect to see detailed assessment findings for all sites listed in the documents (for the relevant pollutants of concern).
The draft continues:
We are very concerned that there appears to be no reference to air quality assessments required for the affected road network as a whole. Much of the chosen route for Sizewell C HGV traffic, via the A12 and B1122 has receptor locations in close proximity to the kerbside. We will require detailed air quality assessment of all roads impacted by Sizewell C traffic during successive stages of the project to determine the likelihood of exceedance of any of the Air Quality Objectives at relevant receptor locations. This should include particularly vulnerable receptors such as schools, for example, Farlingaye High School is adjacent to the A12.
Current guidance produced for Local Air Quality Management with respect to PM2.5 tasks local authorities with tackling local emissions alongside other pollutants. The Government’s Clean Air Strategy 2019, launched in January, focuses on a number of pollutants including fine particulates – PM2.5. The Strategy advises that the Government will publish evidence early in 2019 to examine what action would be needed to meet the World Health Organisation annual mean guideline limit of 10 μg/m3 and use this to set a new, ambitious, long-term target to reduce people’s exposure to PM2.5. With this in mind, we will require emissions of PM2.5 to be considered for all aspects associated with the Sizewell C development. The Stage 3 consultation documents do not refer to PM2.5 in any great depth.
It is imperative that EDF provides more information about air pollution mitigation measures and the Planning Inspectorate should pay particular attention to EDF’s failure to provide satisfactory information during the consultation.
Table 5.9.1. of Vol 2a highlights the risks of contaminants to human health, describing them as being caused by ‘dermal contact with, and ingestion of, contaminants in soils, soil-derived dusts and water; and inhalation of soil-derived dust, fibres, gas and vapours’. We grow our own vegetables so we are concerned about these contaminants.
iv. Ecology and biodiversity
Fir Tree Farm has a Section 41 Habitat under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006), which requires the Secretary of State to further the conservation of the living organisms in this priority habitat. This status is due to the presence of great crested newts, a European protected species.
EDF’s proposed construction compound includes a pond located on the boundary of Fir Tree Farm, and there is a further pond inside the proposed compound, on the other side of the boundary. Fir Tree Farm has another pond, located close to the residential dwelling.
In a survey conducted at Fir Tree Farm on May 4, 2018, in ecologist Christian Whiting BSc (Hons) MSc MCIEEM MEECW concluded that the following legally protected species / groups may be using the site and / or land immediately adjacent to it.
Amphibians including great crested newts and reptiles such as grass snake (Natrix helvetica);
Mammals including badgers (Meles meles) and bats;
Breeding birds including Amber and Red Status species; and
S. 41 list species such as hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) and stag beetle (Lucanus cervus)
During his time-limited site survey, he confirmed the existence of great crested newt and the fact there was evidence of GCN breeding in one of ponds at Fir Tree Farm. He noted that data provided by SBIS confirms the presence of GCN within a 2km buffer of Fir Tree Farm, with 15 records within this area. Many of the records are located to the west of the A12 dual carriageway, which act as a significant barrier to movement/dispersal. Of the remaining records in the data set, the closest is less than 700m away to the northeast, with hedgerows present along field margins between the record and Fir Tree Farm.
Due to his survey being related to the immediate vicinity of the farmhouse, Mr Whiting only looked for evidence of bats in the pantiles of the conservatory roof. We regularly see bats around the property.
In a desktop study, reviewing EDF’s own desktop study of the potential environmental impacts of the link road and its construction, ecologist Diana Ward MSc CBiol MRSB MCIEEM states that EDF’s development proposals hold the results of a ‘coarse desk study and should be refined by survey’. She goes on to suggest ‘the full suite of surveys will be required for this project and this should include all potential compound sites as well as the length of the road. This will include Phase 1, botany, invertebrates, great crested newts (and consideration of other amphibians), reptiles, breeding and wintering birds, bats, badgers, otter, water vole, and, given a recent record in Saxmundham, dormouse. During these surveys, particular attention should be paid to protected species, those listed in S41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and those which have a conservation status. Additionally, consideration should be given to non-native invasive species’.
Referring to the presence of GCN and bats at Fir Tree Farm, Mrs Ward suggests that ‘the location of the projected compound is not appropriate’. She states the compound will ‘either need to be moved further south or elsewhere and I would recommend that the opposite side of the A12 is looked at as a potential site among others’.
She highlights that ‘in order to obtain a European Protected Species licence it is necessary to pass three tests. One is that there shall be no other satisfactory alternative. Thus alternative sites should be sought so as not to affect great crested newts in the vicinity of [the] property. Ponds are also a Priority Habitat and it would be appropriate to leave them in situ’.
Mrs Ward also addressed the issue of bats, drawing attention to the harmful effects of the proposed lighting. This is referenced earlier in this section, under the heading Light Pollution. We note with concern in paragraph 5.3.17 of Vol 2a that ‘…construction lighting would be designed to minimise light spill into adjacent habitats. This would reduce impacts on nocturnal species such as bats for roosting or foraging’. We would draw EDF’s attention to guidance issued by the Institute of Lighting Professionals on September 12, 2018 entitled “Guidance Note 8 Bats and artificial lighting”: https://www.theilp.org.uk/documents/guidance-note-8-bats-and-artificial-lighting/
In conclusion, Mrs Ward states her belief that ‘EDF have been overly optimistic with regard to the residual effects on hedgerows, where embedded mitigation will require a long time to become effective, and bats, where severance of commuting routes is not necessarily easily resolved by the provision of ‘safe crossings’. The website Conservation Evidence shows variable results for the efficacy of ‘safe crossings.’ ‘
Her full recommendations, including the need for EDF to enhance proposed mitigation measures for the link road, are in the report attached to this document.
Fir Tree Farm has an area of scrub – around three acres – which the local parish council categorises as rare within the parish.
A report following an on-site survey conducted on March 15, 2019, by Naturalist Jeremy Bowdrey, of the Kelsale-cum-Carlton Biodiversity Group, states:
Scrub is a poorly represented habitat within the Parish, and this area is one of the most extensive present.
The area has potential to support a wide range of biodiversity and act as a reservoir of wildlife for the wider countryside. If managed sensitively it could develop an even richer flora and fauna over time. Ponds elsewhere on site and on adjacent land, are an important addition to the habitat mosaic present.
The scrub field is important for protected species such as great-crested newt (terrestrial phase) and probably also for foraging bats, birds, reptiles and invertebrates.
The key findings of Mr Bowdrey’s preliminary survey are:
40 species of plants were recorded, none were rare, but similar, local, grasslands on clay have eventually gone on to develop interesting communities of orchids and other less common species over time.
The weather on the survey day was suboptimal for recording reptiles and insects. Signs of three mammal species were found and four bird species were recorded.
Invertebrates found were limited to those that are observable at this time of year, mainly the immature stages of herbivorous species.
Great-crested newt (Triturus cristatus) is known to be present in ponds in the vicinity (see earlier ecological survey) and the scrub area will be very important for the terrestrial phase of the lifecycle of this protected species. Surrounding intensive arable fields are inhospitable for the terrestrial phase of the newts’ life-cycle.
In addition, the habitat appears to be eminently suitable for protected reptiles such as Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara) and Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) as well as Grass snake (Natrix natrix). Weather conditions were not suitable for these species to be observable, but their presence could easily be confirmed by survey, utilising tin or felt refugia.
Evidence of the immature stages of a picture-winged fly Myopites inulaedyssenteriae were abundant on fleabane (Pulicaria dyssenterica). This nationally rare species is accorded Red Data Book 3 (RDB3) status.
Mr Bowdrey warns:
Individual habitats cannot thrive in isolation and this field is linked to the wider countryside and other semi-natural habitats by hedgerows of varying quality, with the A12 forming a considerable barrier to the west.
Another busy, new road would further fragment this connectivity, as well as having an adverse effect on more mobile species such as Badger (a protected species), Brown Hare (a BAP species) as well as hedgehog and deer species, leading to an increase in road kill deaths and accidents, already all too familiar on the A12.
In relation to deer, we note that there is no consideration given by EDF to safeguarding and maintaining the route of Red Deer migration from the ancient deer park at the Fromus Reserve (adjacent to the A12), crossing the A12 near the Town Farm Lane junction (by Fir Tree Farm) across the proposed route and off to the rutting grounds on the coastal heathlands. The omission of Red Deer from EDF’s consideration as a significant issue, with no clear resolution identified during either the construction and/or operation phases, is alarming and further evidence of the ill-conceived proposals for the link road / Route Z.
Mr Bowdery concludes:
Other impacts on wildlife of a new road and associated construction infrastructure are light and noise pollution, both during construction and from street lighting and passing traffic after construction. These will have a profound effect on the scrub and associated areas nearby.
Light pollution is known to adversely affect foraging in some bat species as well as interfering with bird reproductive cycles and migration patterns. Nocturnal invertebrates can also suffer negative impacts from intense illumination sources.
Whilst wildlife can in some cases adapt to some background noise, more sensitive species are likely to be repelled or otherwise negatively affected and suffer disturbance from such pollution.
The A12 is already a source of noise and light pollution and additional road construction will further compound such pollution.
Given the level of detail provided here, in three surveys we have commissioned and which by our own admission have only scratched the surface of the issues that need to be addressed, it is abundantly clear that EDF must urgently remedy its lack of information on the ecological impacts of the proposed link road and construction compound with extensive surveys – at their own cost. It is unacceptable that important considerations are emerging only as a result of our own initiatives and those of other consultees similarly impacted by the proposals.
Section 5: The Sizewell Link Road
The previous sections have examined the impacts on Fir Tree Farm from the proposed link road. This section reviews the scheme as a whole. Please note this section does not provide feedback on the road-led versus rail-led strategy. This is explored in Section 7.
The option of a relief road avoids a number of negative impacts arising from the long established proposal for the use of B1122 as the main route for construction traffic to Sizewell C. It is welcome that EDF is seeking to recognise the impacts on local communities in the Middleton Moor and Theberton areas. However, in choosing Route Z South, we believe EDF has replaced one problem with another. In the absence of a meaningful mechanism to address the exceptional hardships created by the new proposal it is not possible to properly understand the extent to which one option is preferable to another.
EDF has failed, to date, to discharge its duty to consult the local community under Section 47 of the Planning Act 2008. The mandatory statement of community involvement updated in November 2006 does not make any reference to the link road proposal, dealing only with the provision of rail and B1122 access solutions. By failing to update the statement of community consultation prior to this Stage 3 consultation EDF has made it impossible to comply with Section 47 (7) which requires such consultation to be carried out in accordance with the statement. Simply put, the revised access solution represents such a major departure from the scope of the original proposal as to fall outside the project for which the statement was prepared.
It is our view that EDF has failed to set out a case for Route Z South over the other options – Routes W, X, Y and Z. The reasons given in Vol 1 are lacking in detail. EDF must either provide exhaustive evidence for having rejected the other routes or it must revisit the routes, with a comprehensive highways analysis.
The Stage 3 consultation has not been carried out at a sufficiently early stage to allow the responses to inform the development of the link road proposal.
In its description of all the routes and especially in the justification given for Route Z EDF fails to take into account any impact on allocations in the District Council’s Local Plan and any other potential developments, such as the application to make Yoxford a Conservation Area, which will have a major knock-on effect on EDF’s plans for the bypass from B1122 to the link road.
EDF also ignores other major developments in the local area, including Scottish Power’s plans for a wind farm substation at Friston and the building of 800 new homes south of Saxmundham which will add to congestion on the A12.
It is significant that Suffolk County Council states in its draft response that ‘in the opinion of Suffolk County Council, as the Local Highway Authority (LHA), the selection of the route has not been justified in transport terms through modelling of capacity, road safety and journey times. The County Council is mindful that the transport benefits of any route must also be balanced against other factors such as heritage, ecology and the developing Local Plan.’
The traffic modelling is confusing and misleading, as the documents refer to ‘vehicles’, ‘movements’ and ‘deliveries’ without making a clear distinction. It appears this is a deliberate attempt to distort the true numbers of construction-related vehicles, if indeed EDF has even established what these numbers are. It is not clear when the traffic modelling was conducted. It appears very unlikely that it reflects peak periods of congestion during summer months and does not take into account the heavy use of the A12 by farm machinery, travelling at slow speeds on long stretches of single carriageway with little or no passing opporttunities.
The road originates off the A12 between Yoxford and Kelsale, at a new roundabout. The introduction of further highway infrastructure of this scale on the A12 would have an urbanising affect that has the potential to impact the setting of listed buildings in the vicinity.
With regards to the historic environment, there is, at this stage, very little information from which we can assess the impacts of the proposal. A full settings assessment is required; this should outline the contribution the assets’ setting makes to their significance, whether there would be a material impact on the setting as a result of the proposal and whether the impact on the setting would result in harm to the significance of the listed buildings.
Hill Farmhouse, Valley Farmhouse and farm buildings east of Valley Farmhouse are all Grade II listed buildings. The new road will run close to the B1122 near these buildings. This will impact the setting of these buildings; they will face onto a narrow patch of land between two roads instead of open farmland. As historic farmhouses, it is important that their relationship with the surrounding agricultural land can be read in order to appreciate their significance. Past Anneson’s Corner the road would curve around Theberton village. This would mean that Grade II listed Theberton Hall is surrounded on all sides by roads at relatively close proximity.
The new road re-joins the B1122 adjacent to Theberton House. The house itself is Grade II* listed and there are several listed structures within the grounds including the only designated heritage asset to fall within the red line site: Theberton House gate and gate piers (Grade II listed). There is fairly substantial existing screening to the south and west of the house but the Grade II* listing indicates the high significance of this asset and therefore the impact on its setting needs to be very carefully considered.
The proposed route passes through the middle of the original extent of a historic parkland and will impact upon the setting of Theberton Hall and several other listed buildings. It also passes through areas of early (pre 18th century) enclosure and has the potential to impact upon the wider historic landscape as identified through HLC data. It is likely to impact upon surviving parkland features in the Theberton area. The loss of historic boundaries and other historic landscape features should be avoided. The long-term impacts upon the parkland, setting of listed buildings and historic landscape will need to be taken into consideration. The above ground heritage and landscape impacts need further assessment and setting impacts and mitigation options need to be discussed with Historic England, Suffolk Coastal District Council’s conservation officer and landscape officers.
Suffolk Coastal District Council recognises Fir Tree Farm as a non-designated heritage asset – essentially a local listing – and we believe that the criteria EDF is applying to designated heritage assets should also be applied to Fir Tree Farm.
In a heritage assessment led by Richard Hoggert, a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, it is stated that EDF needs to give due consideration to the impact which any development which might have Non-Designated Heritage Assets, including historic buildings and structures, and that their settings be given similar protection to Designated Heritage Assets under paragraphs 5.8.4-6 of the nPS EN-1 and paragraph 197 of the National Planning Policy Framework (MCLG 2019).
Baseline noise and vibration surveys for the Sizewell Link Road have yet to be undertaken, and we find it unacceptable that consultees are expected to respond fully to the proposals with this paucity of information on such critical matters to health and well-being. Indeed EDF even admits in paragraph 5.13.36 of Vol 2a that ‘once the design for the Sizewell Link road is developed further and in more detail, a traffic and transport assessment will be undertaken and will be used to inform the ongoing EIA and the ES’. This is a clear admission by EDF of incomplete preparatory work having been undertaken and therefore it has failed in its statutory duty to consult properly.
Paragraph 5.7.2. identifies 22 noise and vibration receptors along the link road route. We believe this is grossly misleading for two reasons. One is that it fails to list a number of properties as close to or closer to the link road (such as Rosetta Cottage, Kelsale Lodge Cottages, Mill Hill Barn and Gallery, and The Farmhouse B&B). The other is that it refers to several roads as receptors (such as Doughty Wylie Crescent and Yoxford Road) where there are a number of individual residential dwellings. It is our view this is deliberately designed to mislead consultees into thinking a small number of properties are impacted by the road.
The list of human receptors in Paragraph 5.8.1. is similarly misleading as it lists street names rather than identifying the true number of residential properties. It also fails to reference the properties mentioned above. The inability of EDF to identify properties within 700m of the proposed link road is a clear failure of the consultation process. In the case of Rosetta Cottage on Town Farm Lane, it is even shown on the plans (figure 10.3) as being surrounded on three sides by the construction compound.
Suffolk County Council, in its response to the consultation, highlights concerns that the considerations did not include assessments in relation to air quality or impact on residential properties and these needs to be looked at in more detail.
We believe the proposed road speed of 50mph is unacceptable – this the speed limit on the A12 and at the stretch of the A12 where EDF proposes starting the link road there have been multiple road accidents in recent years.
In terms of landscape impacts, the proposals are no more than a preliminary outline, therefore further design work appears to be required before an assessment of the landscape effects can be completed. We are very concerned that EDF’s proposals for mitigation are only within the narrow red line of the scheme. It should investigate and propose mitigation beyond the red line of this scheme.
It is our view that the proposed use of embankments with culverts to cross watercourses are likely to have unacceptable impacts on ecology as well as on drainage and water quality, and this needs to be explored and assessed further.
We are not satisfied with the proposals relating to Public Rights Of Way impacted by the link road. Wherever practical, crossing points for PROW should be provided without physical barriers such as gates, stiles or steps.
We do not believe that EDF has made a compelling case for Route Z over other potential routes. The route runs too close to many homes and listed buildings, with substantial embankments, cuttings and road closures, breaking up communities and making farms unviable. Parallel to the B1122, it will be of little use once the power station is built.
Indeed the link road is promoted as a way of addressing the concerns of residents living on or near to the B1122, and yet EDF admits that during the ‘Early Years’ of Sizewell C construction, up to 600 HGVs a day, plus hundreds of vehicles for other energy projects would use the current B1122 before the link road is constructed.
The link road creates a new road which runs almost parallel to the existing road, thus the legacy benefit is minimal. If EDF Energy were to pursue the proposed Route Z, Suffolk County Council says it would need to consider whether it would wish to adopt the full route as part of the public highway network following completion of construction of the nuclear power station. The County Council highlights that much of the route parallels the existing B1122, resulting in maintaining at public expense two parallel routes performing the same function.
Landowners and residents along the proposed Route Z have already been financially impacted by publication of the proposals. Even though they remain proposals, we believe that, without delay, EDF must publish an exceptional hardship scheme to enable those impacted to be compensated appropriately, as well as to provide vital funding to independently interrogate the road-led strategy.
We have provided compelling evidence of the impact on our family, but we are an example of a much wider problem. Hardship has already been created by the Sizewell C development proposals and if EDF wishes to redeem itself for having been totally unreasonable throughout the Stage 3 consultation, then it must set up a meaningful exceptional hardship scheme without delay.
We support the view of Suffolk County Council that there appears to be particular merit in re-considering the Southern route W as an alternative to the proposed route Z. The County Council has requested that the Southern route is revisited as a potential superior alternative route with regards to transport benefits, legacy potential and scheme impacts.
Route W has significant benefits. It provides the shortest overall route for most of the traffic which originates from the south. It also provides the greatest transport legacy, removing through traffic from the centre of Saxmundham and providing good access to the south and east of Leiston. If considered cumulatively with the Scottish Power Renewables NSIPs, this route could provide significant benefits to these projects during the construction phase. The northern W route would also enable access to land around Leiston Airfield, which would be beneficial if this site was considered as an alternative location for the accommodation campus.
Section 6: Failure of the Consultation Process.
Overall, our view is that EDF’s consultation with us as consultees has been appalling, with a paucity of information, misleading and inconsistent communications, and cold, unsympathetic interactions.
We will detail these here, in chronological order, and as an example of how EDF has conslulted with stakeholders.
09/10/2018: We received the Land Referencing letter dated 08/10/2018. We were identified as being ‘in possession of a land interest or right which may be affected by part of the project’.
We contacted EDF using the 0800 197 6102 number provided in the letter. We were met with a curt and unhelpful response. We were told that the letters were routine and ours was among hundreds being sent out across Suffolk. Despite giving specific details of our property, no information was forthcoming.
We contacted Ardent, the third party commissioned to conduct the land referencing on behalf of EDF. Again, no information was forthcoming.
We sought advice from planning lawyers and we completed the RFI to ensure we were part of the formal process, although it must be stated that this information was sought in a deliberately underhanded way.
We continued to seek more information from EDF but its representatives were not forthcoming with any information about their plans. Indeed they were dismissive and obstructive. This is unacceptable and it should be noted that EDF failed to provide any information or reassurance to our parish council at Kelsale-cum-Carlton prior to publication of the proposals.
We eventually got a call back from Tom McGarry, Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Sizewell C. We spoke on November 6, 2018, by phone and we set out our plans to extend our property due to our pressing family needs, and he invited us to a meeting.
The meeting took place on November 19, 2018, at EDF’s London HQ. The meeting was hosted by Tom McGarry and he was supported by Beth Winstone, a CPO surveyor from Ardent who has been seconded to EDF. Only Paul Field attended the meeting, accompanied by his assistant who took verbatim, contemporaneous notes of the proceedings.
Paul Field was reasonable with them, yet Mr McGarry and Ms Winstone were cold and clinical in their description of the plans, which made reference only to the location of the link road and not the construction compound. We were misled by Mr McGarry about the construction period, as he told Paul Field it would be 12 months.
There was absolutely no expression on EDF’s part of regret that its plans would cause disruption to our family and no willingness to even discuss mitigation measures. Mr McGarry was explicit that EDF did not require our land for its proposals.
We believe the meeting was a cynical attempt by EDF to prevent us from making a substantial investment in developing our property, in order to minimise the level of compensation EDF would have to pay as part of either a negotiated settlement or a statutory procedure at a later date.
We wrote to EDF on December 19, 2018, and reasonably set our position. The full letter is included in the Appendix.
Despite our email having been opened more than 40 times by EDF over the course of several weeks, EDF failed to respond to this letter until January 24, 2019. A copy of this letter is in the Appendix.
We received by courier on January 7, 2019, a letter from Jim Crawford, Project Development Director, dated January 4, 2019.
We were dismayed that as a consultee EDF did not send us formal notice of its plans until three days after those plans were made publicly available.
The letter referred to Fir Tree Farm as a Land Parcel (SK322376, which is the Title Number of the property) and stated:
You have been identified as a consultee under section 42 of the Planning Act 2008 as you own, occupy or have a legal interest in land which EDF Energy has identified as being required for our proposals.
It was not until EDF’s letter of January 24, 2019 that EDF clarified that the land it required was ‘a very small part of your title SK322376’ within the boundary of the proposed development. It went on to explain ‘the part of your land… has been included purely to allow us space to factor in possible works to accommodate impacts on your land, or to accommodate landscape mitigation requirements within the final design’.
It is our view that given EDF’s letter of January 24, 2019, the letter of January 4, 2019 was misleading and gave us false hope that our reasonable request that EDF acquire Fir Tree Farm was going to be met.
It is unacceptable that EDF left us in the dark for 20 days, despite us making repeated reasonable requests to EDF to clarify the situation.
In this regard, we wrote to Mr McGarry on January 7, 2019 (cc-ing Mr Crawford) and to Mr Crawford on January 21, 2019 (cc-ing Mr McGarry), highlighting the inconsistencies in their communications and requesting clarification. This letter is in the Appendix.
We also sought to engage reasonably in the consultation process by attending public exhibitions, where we made face-to-face representations to Mr Crawford for clarification, but he failed to supply any such information. Furthermore, the way in which we were treated by Mr Crawford and other senior EDF executives was disgraceful, falling woefully short of what is expected of a promoter that takes its statutory duty to consult seriously. It is obvious that the lack of resources has prevented a proper consultation and an update of the statement of community consultation before embarking on this late-in-the-day and under-prepared Stage 3 process.
At the public exhibition at Yoxford Town Hall on January 8, 2019, we met Mr Crawford for the first time. He questioned the wording of the letter which had been sent in his name. We repeated the wording verbatim, and yet still he cast doubt on us being referred to as a consultee under the Planning Act 2008. He promised to respond to our letter of December 19, 2018 by the end of the following week.
During this conversation, Mr Crawford was unsympathetic and flippant in his attitude towards, so much so that my wife was so shocked and upset by his conduct that she was unable to attend further meetings due to the stress caused.
Paul Field attended a public exhibition at Hacheston two days later, and asked Mr Crawford, if he had seen our letter emailed to Mr McGarry on January 7, 2019, and cc-d to him. He said he had not, and gave Paul Field an alternative email to forward it to him. We did this with a polite and reasonable request to respond by January 18, 2019, as he had told us he would when we met him at Yoxford.
This email elicited no response before the deadline Mr Crawford had given us.
Paul Field attended another public exhibition at Stratford St Andrew on January 19, 2019. This is Paul Field’s account of what unfolded:
Mr Crawford was not present in the room when I arrived and I spoke to an EDF representative who took my name and said she would go and find him. She was followed by Simon Hazelgrove, a PR consultant to EDF. When she came back she informed me Mr Crawford was in a meeting with a stakeholder and would be an hour.
I left, but returned 15 minutes later. At this time Mr Crawford was in the room, on his own. As I went over to speak to him, I was followed by Mr Hazelgrove, Client Services Director, at PR agency Spring.
In a calm and reasonable manner, I reminded Mr Crawford that he had not kept his promise to respond to us by January 18, 2019. He disputed this and claimed he had said he would respond within two weeks of the exhibitions ending.
He then told me he had a draft letter to send me. I asked what was in it and he said he did not know as he had not read it.
‘So it has been written for you?’ I asked.
‘Well, I wouldn’t want you to read anything I wrote,’ he replied. ‘Our lawyers have drafted it and we’ll send it next week.’
I asked on which day I would receive it.
‘I can’t say which day. I always under promise and over-deliver…. But by the end of next week.’
I said I was disappointed EDF had not engaged with me sooner about our position and I pointed out that they had chosen to bring me into the process 53 days ago by inviting me to a meeting in London with Mr McGarry.
At this point, Mr McGarry who had been hovering nearby, came over to where I was and repeatedly pointed his finger at me. He was very aggressive both verbally and in his posture.
‘You asked for the meeting and expressed your point of view. We didn’t bring you into the process. I told you that you would be able to engage in the consultation process,’ said Mr McGarry.
I replied: ‘Firstly, I expressed no point of view during the meeting. I gave you no opinion whatsoever. And it was you who offered me a meeting, an offer which I accepted.'
‘No, you involved yourself,’ said McGarry. 'You’d been making enquiries and given the investment you were looking at making we agreed to meet with you.’
I repeated it was unacceptable to have caused 53 days of stress and anxiety and to have not engaged with me since I wrote to them.
Then Mr Hazelgrove started laughing, as he waved his arms in the direction of the exhibition boards around the room.
‘What do you think this is? We’re engaging you!’
I responded: ‘Why are you laughing? This is not a laughing matter. There is nothing funny about the anxiety and stress EDF is causing my family.’
I decided to step away and asked Mr Crawford to confirm which day next week I could expect the letter, responding to my letters of December 19, 2018 and January 7, 2019.
Mr Crawford also laughed at me, shaking his head. ‘By next Friday.’
‘Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you,’ I said before leaving.
We followed up this unedifying encounter with a letter to Mr Crawford in January 21, 2019, repeating our position and complaining about the open aggression shown by his colleagues.
As of the time of submitting this formal response, Mr Crawford has not responded to this letter, which is in the Appendix.
On January 23, 2019, Hugh Gilmour, Head of Land & Property, Nuclear Development, EDF, responded to our letters of December 19, 2018 and January 7, 2019. He stated that EDF will not be making an offer to acquire Fir Tree Farm and gave minor details about the land parcel. In this letter, Mr Gilmour contradicted Mr Crawford’s statement that we own land at Fir Tree Farm which has been identified by EDF Energy ‘as being required’ for its proposals, by saying the land ‘may be required‘. This contradiction is further evidence of the inconsistent way in which EDF has led its Stage 3 consultation and it is important to point out the high level of stress and uncertainty caused by such inconsistencies in written communications. This letter is in the Appendix.
It is a matter of utmost concern that EDF has failed to properly engage with us about the parcel of our land which it states is either required or may be required for its proposals.
Vol 1 of the development proposals spell out EDF’s approach to negotiated settlement in Paragraph 1.6.1.
As part of this consultation, EDF Energy will be consulting with land owners whose land would need to be acquired to deliver the proposals. EDF Energy is committed to acquiring all interests in land by private agreement wherever possible. However, in the event that negotiations with some land owners are unsuccessful, EDF Energy would propose to acquire land via compulsory purchase, and will seek the necessary powers in the application for development consent.
We are dismayed that given the personal circumstances we set out for EDF as early as November 2018, EDF has not even sought to deal with this matter, especially as we have been entirely reasonable with EDF about our willingness to accommodate a negotiated settlement.
Despite EDF explicitly stating that it is committed to acquiring all interests in land necessary for its proposed development through private agreements with landowners, at the time of writing we have had no formal or informal request from EDF to start this process. In not having consulted with us over the land parcel, EDF has failed in its statutory duty under Section 47 of the Planning Act 2008.
This information void has added to the anxiety our family is suffering.
We responded to Mr Gilmour’s letter on February 14, 2019, having received from several estate agents valuations for and opinions about the saleability of Fir Tree Farm.
In a very reasonable manner, we highlighted the inconsistencies in EDF’s communications with us and repeated our fair request that EDF should acquire Fir Tree Farm. We reasonably requested a response no later than a week later – February 21, 2019 – and asked that EDF at least meet with us to seek a positive resolution to our situation. This letter is in the Appendix.
Again, EDF failed to respond within a reasonable timeframe commensurate with the urgency of our personal situation. Mr Gilmour did not respond until the evening of February 26, 2019 when he proposed a meeting with one of his colleagues. We replied the following morning, with a range of dates between March 1, 2019 and March 7, 2019. Mr Gilmour responded by saying his colleague, Lidia Bosa (Project Manager, Site Operations, Hinkley Point C) was unable to meet us until March 11, 12 or 14.
We responded, expressing our disappointment that EDF could not accommodate a meeting at Fir Tree Farm sooner for all the reasonable reasons I had set out in my previous email. We took the first available date, even though it required me to forego a day of consulting in London, and highlighted our willingness to be flexible at short notice about meeting sooner should any of Ms Bosa’s commitments be postponed or cancelled.
It is noteworthy that EDF’s consultation is so poorly resourced that it needed to bring in management from Hinkley Point C to meet with us – and this lack of funding for the Stage 3 consultation was highlighted by Ms Bosa’s colleague during the subsequent meeting.
The meeting took place at Fir Tree Farm on March 11, 2019. Ms Bosa was accompanied by a colleague from Hinkley Point C, Mark Lewis, Site Operations Integration Manager, and a representative from the Sizewell C office in Leiston, Tracy Hateley. Michaela Field was too distressed to attend the meeting.
Ms Bosa apologised for ‘the inconsistencies you have had in dealing with EDF Energy’ and criticised the way EDF had led its consultation with us, saying, ‘I have always said use one point of contact at all times and that way it is consistent’.
Ms Bosa was clear that it was her suggestion to meet with us, having had her opinion sought by Mr Gilmour.
During the meeting, Mr Lewis asked Paul Field to make suggestions as to what EDF should do to mitigate the impact of the proposed link road. While the meeting was a courteous one – the first reasonable interaction with EDF in four months – Paul Field was nonetheless surprised and disappointed that EDF was asking him for proposals about mitigation measures which would require a level of technical knowledge that he would only be able to have if he were able to hire experts to advise him (and remember EDF flatly refused to fund any professional advice during the consultation). Mr Lewis suggested bunding and woodland planting but as Paul Field pointed out, for a stakeholder to be able to respond in a fair and meaningful way to the development during the consultation the proposals should include extensive detail about the mitigation measures for residents and landowners along the route of the proposed road.
Paul Field highlighted the paucity of information in the development proposals relating to mitigation measures.Ms Bosa and Mr Lewis suggested Paul Field should travel to Hinkley Point C and meet with local residents with whom they have worked on mitigating the impact of a bypass which was required for the project.
Paul Field asked them to put a proposal together. As of the time of submitting this formal response, no such proposal has been presented to us.
Ms Bosa and Mr Lewis told Paul Field he should be treated as a ‘key local stakeholder’ during the duration of the project.
As of the time of submitting this formal response, no further details of this proposed role have been given.
Ms Bosa and Mr Lewis also stated that a follow-up action would be to come back with what EDF could do ‘immediately around your border to try to add screening and protection’. They also said EDF ‘should get you an answer on where the footpath will be diverted’.
As of the time of submitting this formal response, none of this information has been provided.
Regrettably, given that Ms Bosa and Mr Lewis were apologetic during the meeting about the conduct of their Sizewell C colleagues, the failure to follow through on these promises is indicative of the failure of EDF to consult in a fair and reasonable way.
Notably, Mr Lewis sought to explain the reasons EDF had failed to consult with us during Stage 3. He said: ‘ Honestly, the reason, if there has been a delay in response, I think, is for a multi billion pound project, we're trying to run this with a handful of people at the moment because we're so, so constricted on spend on Sizewell at the moment because we have to reach a crucial milestone at HPC by the end of May and into June. Once we get to that stage with HPC, that kind of releases the pressure on Sizewell.’
He added: ‘We should have had this conversation months ago and that would have happened under any other circumstances.’
This disclosure, if based on fact rather than opinion, underscores the failure of EDF to commit sufficient resources to the Stage 3 consultation to fulfil its statutory duty under Section 47 of the Planning Act 2008, and supports the contention that it should delay its DCO application, conduct appropriate studies to fill the information void, update its statement of Community Consultation again, and run a fourth consultation.
Following the meeting, we received an email on March 15, 2019 from Mr Gilmour with a letter ‘setting out our position in relation to your property’.
The letter stated ‘SZC is not able to make an offer to acquire Fir Tree Farm’ and invited us to submit feedback to the consultation.
No reference was made to any of the action items promised by Ms Bosa and Mr Lewis.
Again, this highlights EDF’s unreasonable and inconsistent approach to the consultation, adding weight to the argument that the Stage 3 consultation has not been fit for purpose.
Section 7: General comments
i. Overall views on the development of Sizewell C
The National Infrastructure Commission, reflecting emerging regulatory tightening, now requires that a major project such as Sizewell C must be assessed in its overall context. We do not believe that the proposals put forward provide a convincing argument that the benefits outweigh the risks and costs.
The proposals presented at Stage 3 are far greater in scale than those presented previously at Stages 1 and 2. The project is enormous – too big for the setting and land available. The Government suggests that a single new nuclear power station should occupy 30 hectares (based on Sizewell B). The two nuclear reactors – Sizewell C and D – are squeezed into only 32 hectares.
In particular, we consider that to locate Sizewell C on the Suffolk coast is inappropriate given the social, economic, and environmental impacts on the area. This is an AONB which may not have the immediate visual impact of, for example, the Lake District, but by its very nature it is particularly vulnerable. Suffolk County Council has produced an excellent paper (Suffolk’s Nature Strategy) which makes the point that the environmental qualities and the wider amenity value of the Suffolk countryside are a ‘common good’. That is to say they have an economic value that belongs to all of us.
Construction will threaten some of the most biodiverse habitats in the UK and the Heritage Coast, including two Sites of Special Scientiﬁc Interest and the nationally treasured Minsmere Reserve. It will be impossible to recover from the loss of habitats that host rare birds, animals and plants.
Construction will damage the things that make this part of Suffolk so special: peace, tranquility and dark night skies. Visitors will be driven away by eyesores , closed footpaths and beaches, disruption, noise and pollution, so hurting tourism businesses.
Tourism is worth some £2 billion per annum to Suffolk’s economy. EDF’s proposals are promoted on the basis that there will be a net benefit of some £100 million per annum. Presumably this is on the basis of the steady state operational benefit and therefore discounts the massive up-front disruption during the construction phase? The benefits are thus not sufficient to justify the long term steady state value, still less the risk and disruption of the construction process. Such risks and costs lead to the inescapable conclusion that the project would not meet any properly constructed sustainability assessment.
Before the DCO is considered there ought to be a national debate about the feasibility of the project. Calls are already being made for the Government to focus on a renewables-led energy strategy given the pace of technological advances and the considerably lower costs of offshore wind. Sir John Armitt, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission said the government should put the brakes on plans for a nuclear new build programme, arguing that wind and solar could deliver the same capacity as nuclear for the same price, with the added advantage of carrying less risk.
‘One thing we’ve all learned is these big nuclear programmes can be pretty challenging, quite risky – they will be to some degree on the government’s balance sheet,’ said Sir John last year. ‘I don’t think anybody’s pretending you can take forward a new nuclear power station without some form of government underwriting or support. Whereas the amount required to subsidise renewables is continually coming down.’
The EPR reactor in Taishan in China only went operational in December 2018, and is the first of its kind in the world. Olkiluoto in Finland has been delayed until 2020 at the earliest, and Flamanville in France has also been delayed due to significant design issues. There are therefore no EPR reactors operating satisfactorily anywhere in the world apart from Taishan and no experience yet exists of the safety and other issues raised by this design. EDF has already admitted that, for France's own recently announced energy transition strategy, significant design review is required. It seems premature to proceed with Sizewell C while this remains the case.
There are also serious questions about Chinese involvement in the UK’s infrastructure. EDF, which lost 200,000 UK customers last year, is already propped up by the Chinese state-owned China Nuclear Group and there is speculation among investors that by the time EDF submits its Sizewell C planning application to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business and Energy next year that CGN could have taken full ownership of EDF’s new nuclear programme.
Last October, an assistant US Secretary of State, Christopher Ashley Ford, explicitly warned the UK against partnering with CGN, claiming that the business was taking civilian technology and using it for military purposes. In recent weeks, concerns about Huawei, the Chinese telecoms company, prompted calls for the government to push back on closer energy ties with China.
Isabel Hilton, CEO of Chinadialogue, says the UK opening up vital infrastructure to China is unparallelled in the western world. ‘No other OECD country has done this. This is strategic infrastructure, and China is a partner but not an ally in the security sense. You are making a 50-year bet, not only that there will be no dispute between the UK and China, but also no dispute between China and one of the UK’s allies. It makes no strategic sense.’
ii. Main development site
As set out above, further development of this size on the Suffolk Coast is neither justifiable nor sustainable. Its impact on the wider environment would be excessive and the disruption caused by 15 years of construction would be irreparable.
iii. People and the economy
Suffolk’s economy is diverse but tourism is a major contributor. Economically Suffolk benefits from being at one end of the Felixstowe/Cambridge/Midlands corridor, as a result of which major investment is required in the road network. At the same time Local Authorities in the region are being required to update their Local Plans to accommodate a large increase in housing: some 10,000 units in the Suffolk Coastal area alone. Adding Sizewell C can only exacerbate the issues faced by the county as it struggles to deal with these developments. It is notable that your consultation document makes no mention of any Local Plans that are currently being revised, specifically by Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC). Nor does it deal with the question of an Ipswich Northern Relief Road, a matter that is getting increasing attention. This lack of a joined-up approach is deeply concerning and leads us to question whether the results of the current consultation would be procedurally valid.
EDF’s proposals assume a peak workforce of 6,000 but you recognise that this could be higher, perhaps as much as 8,500. It is not clear how EDF has made its assumptions in relation to the needs of this workforce. EDF states that one third of this number would live in the area and two thirds would require temporary accommodation. This equates to a requirement for some 5,500 units, but the campus only has capacity for 2,400, less than half of what is required. The caravan park provides a further 400 pitches. This leaves a requirement for 2,600 units/bedspaces to be provided by the local community through self-catering accommodation, B&B lets, spare rooms, etc. None of this allows for partners who might wish to accompany the workforce. This could increase the requirement by perhaps 50% to 4,000 units or more. In an area where accommodation is limited and the tourist market mops up a large proportion of availability, this could cause serious distortion to the property market. Home rental costs will rise – at Hinkley Point C they increased 18% in 2018, according to the BBC.
We also question EDF’s assumption about the commuting appetite of the one third of the workforce who are assumed to live within reach of the site. EDF states that a commuting time of 90 minutes, assuming EDF means 90 minutes each way, might be acceptable. This is the same as living in Woodbridge and working in London. It assumes that these workers will commute from as far afield as Colchester, Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Yarmouth, and Norwich. These journeys would create a far greater impact on traffic than EDF modelling indicates.
EDF makes no assumptions about the day to day needs of the workforce for deliveries of food and household goods by white van. The way these services are provided in the real world will inevitably produce a significant increase in traffic which is not even mentioned in EDF’s analysis.
With regard to the location of the accommodation campus, of 3-4 storey blocks with car parks and leisure facilities, for 2,400 construction workers on a greenﬁeld site close to Minsmere and next to Eastbridge, a hamlet of 50 people.
EDF has consistently refused to consider splitting the site or to consider locating workers in urban areas with suitable social infrastructure and potential for legacy. It has failed to justify why it is not using its approach at Hinkley, where 500 workers are onsite and 1,000 in Bridgwater where the site has been laid out for new housing afterwards.
The campus will bring noise, air and light pollution, an increase in traffic, and the potential for anti-social behaviour. This will place an unfair burden on Leiston, Eastbridge, Theberton and Minsmere. EDF must make a cast-iron guarantee that all the development site land will be fully restored and not become ‘brownﬁeld’.
The transport strategy is ill-conceived and partial, and what little evidence is provided to support it appears to have been rushed.
EDF has failed to provide convincing arguments that a maritime delivery option is unworkable. Weather could mean that it might get interrupted occasionally but it is hard to see why it would cause more damage than the road or rail alternative. EDF needs to provide a much more detailed analysis of why this option has been removed. The coast will repair itself over time – the local landscape will not.
EDF has sought to emphasise throughout Stage 3 that it is consulting on both the road-led and rail-led strategies. There is no compelling evidence for this claim. Indeed EDF has already cast serious doubts about its ability to pursue the rail-led strategy. The development proposals document references twice as many pros for the road-led strategy than the rail-led strategy. It draws attention to the fact that the rail-led strategy could involve an extra £80m of cost compared with the cost of providing the infrastructure for the road-led strategy. EDF admits it does not yet know how long the required improvements and upgrades may take or whether they are deliverable within the timescale necessary to support the project. Given Government policy, explained in Chapter 3 of Vol 1, sets out that the need for new electricity generating stations is considered to be urgent, EDF is clear that if the necessary improvements cannot be delivered in time, it could not adopt the rail-led strategy. Equally, if the timescale for the necessary rail improvements cannot be committed to with certainty, EDF states adopting the rail-led strategy would risk the potential that necessary transport mitigation would not be in place in time to serve the project and it ‘would be obliged to revert to delivery by road without having invested in the necessary infrastructure to support that strategy’.
With no jetty and a rail strategy , up to 1,500 HGVs a day will bring congestion and pollution to Suffolk’s roads. We have already dealt with the link road in this response but it is important to highlight other EDF failures to properly consult on the road-led strategy.
The proposals place too heavy a reliance on HGV traffic moving the bulk of the required 10.7 million tonnes of construction materials along the A12. The safety and well-being of residents along the length of the A12 from Ipswich to Yoxford would be severely compromised by even the traffic levels forecast by EDF. Even the two-village bypass would have no impact on unacceptable traffic volumes, even though it would potentially relieve congestion through the villages themselves.
It is notable that EDF’s consultation document makes no mention of any Local Plans that are currently being revised, specifically by Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC). Nor does it deal with the question of an Ipswich Northern Relief Road, a matter that is getting increasing attention, and no mention is made of the traffic impacts of Scottish Power’s wind farm substation plans at Friston. This lack of a joined-up approach is deeply concerning and leads us to question whether the results of the current consultation would be procedurally valid.
The traffic assessments should be re-run to model the impact on the local road network of the full housing allocations contained in the draft SCDC revised Local Plan, as well as the Scottish Power substation scheme.
We are very concerned about the environmental impacts of the scheme, most notably on an AONB and the Minsmere reserve.
The excavation of the crag layer required to meet the demand for aggregates during construction has not been tested to assess the impact on the water table in the area, and this may have devastating consequences for Minsmere.
The construction lay-down areas, accommodation site, spoil heaps, quarries and causeway crossing of the SSSI could damage the fragile hydrology of the Minsmere Levels, Sizewell Marsh and affect the Minsmere Sluice. Alterations in the management of water run-off could make sensitive ecosystems wetter or drier, while the causeway crossing will impede the drainage of Sizewell Marsh SSSI habitat.
When quarry pits are reﬁlled with excavated materials, there is a risk that pollutants will leach into the water table and Minsmere Levels groundwater over decades. EDF recognises the potential for pollution but is not proposing anything to stop it.
Spoil heaps, up to the height of a 10-storey building, could cause signiﬁcant dust pollution to the AONB, Minsmere Levels and Sizewell Marsh and also affect human health.
EDF has introduced 4 new pylons, the height of the reactors, which will negatively impact the AONB landscape, rather than installing this infrastructure underground.
In relation to Minsmere, we are especially concerned about:
The impact of noise and artificial light from such a massive construction on rare wildlife that is very sensitive to such disturbance, particularly marsh harriers - one of the UK's rarest birds.
The impact on RSPB's ability to manage water levels on the reserve, that is vital for managing the reedbeds and other freshwater habitats that are home to rare wildlife like otters, bitterns and avocets.
The potential erosion of Minsmere's coastline, which could accelerate when you build new coastal structures. This could pose a significant threat to Minsmere's special freshwater and coastal wildlife.
We insist that EDF:
Make a public statement to reassure our community that Minsmere will be protected from any potential harm from the development of Sizewell C.
Fully assess the impact that Sizewell C could have on Minsmere's precious habitats and wildlife.
Write a clear plan outlining how EDF will overcome these impacts, so we can be sure this natural treasure can be safe for generations to come.
This is a list of the supporting documents referenced in Sections 2 - 8.
Letter dated December 19, 2018, from Paul Field to Tom McGarry, Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Sizewell C, EDF Energy
Letter dated January 4, 2019, from Jim Crawford, Project Development Director, Sizewell C, EDF Energy, to Paul and Michaela Field
Letter dated January 7, 2019, from Paul Field to Tom McGarry, Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Sizewell C, and cc-d to Jim Crawford, Project Development Director, Sizewell C, EDF Energy, to Paul Field
Letter dated January 21, 2019, from Paul Field to Jim Crawford, Project Development Director, Sizewell C, EDF Energy
Letter dated January 23, 2019, from Hugh Gilmour, Head of Land & Property, Nuclear Development, EDF Energy, to Paul Field
Letter dated February 13, 2019, from Paul Field to Hugh Gilmour, Head of Land & Property, Nuclear Development, EDF Energy and cc-d to Jim Crawford, Project Development Director, Sizewell C, EDF Energy and Tom McGarry, Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Sizewell C, EDF Energy
Letter dated March 15, 2019, from Hugh Gilmour, Head of Land & Property, Nuclear Development, EDF Energy, to Paul Field
Ecology Assessment, by Diana Ward MSc CBiol MRSB MCIEEM, of Ward and Associates, dated March 8, 2019
Biodiversity Report by Jeremy Bowdery, dated March 15, 2019
Ecology Report by Christian Whiting BSc (Hons) MSc MCIEEM MEECW, dated June 22, 2018
Highways Report by Lawrence Stringer CEng MCIHT MRTPI, of GTA Civils, dated March 27, 2019