Campaigners urge no new action on Sizewell C until virus crisis over

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The letter can be viewed/downloaded from here: 53TownParishCouncilsEDF31March

PUBLISHED: 05:30 01 April 2020 Richard Cornwell

More than 50 town and parish councils have sent a letter to EDF urging it not to submit a Development Consent Order until the virus restrictions are fully lifted.

The letter is led by Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council and Snape Parish Council, and was coordinated by Stop Sizewell C and the Anglian Energy Planning Alliance.

Stephen Brett, chairman of Theberton and Eastbridge PC, said “The sheer weight of numbers of town and parish councils signing this letter is proof of the major concerns held across the county about EDF’s Sizewell C application being submitted in the next few weeks. EDF’s token offer to extend the period for interested parties to register does nothing to address our concerns; it will certainly not help members of our communities who are not online, and I am sure I speak for all local Towns and Parishes when I say how challenging it is making decisions at this time.”

Tim Beach, chairman of Snape PC, added: “A project like Sizewell C will have such significant impacts across the county that it is essential there is robustness of process and full and effective engagement by all stakeholders. We appeal to senior EDF personnel to listen hard to what the parish and town councils – many of whom are statutory consultees – are saying, and to defer their application until all coronavirus restrictions are lifted.”

Alison Downes, of Stop Sizewell C, said: “EDF seems to be on a different planet to the rest of us when it comes to the coronavirus crisis, announcing they would defer submitting a DCO)application for Sizewell C, but only ‘for a few weeks’. By the end of April we could be at peak infection; our local authorities desperately strapped for resources, the Planning Inspectorate with reduced capacity, parish councils still unable to meet and action groups like ours hugely disadvantaged.”

TASC (Together Against Sizewell C) has also issued a similar call. Its secretary Joan Girling said: “If EDF are the ‘good neighbours’ they purport to be, then we would expect they would have the good grace to hold off their DCO application until the SZC Community Forum can be held in public with the fear of contamination having passed.”

An EDF spokesman said: “Across all areas of our business we have recognised the effects that the coronavirus crisis may have on our customers, employees and the communities we serve.

“For that reason, we have announced that we will defer submitting the DCO application Sizewell C for a few weeks. We will ensure that the public have enough time to be able to fully consider the application and are able to share their views.

“To that end we are discussing the following proposals with the Planning Inspectorate: extending the period for relevant representations during the pre-examination phase, introducing measures to make sure everybody is aware of the application when it is submitted, agreeing with the Planning Inspectorate that the examination process itself will not start until they are happy that no parties are disadvantaged.

“The planning inspectorate have confirmed that they do have the resources to process the application.”