Education chiefs: ‘Sizewell C will benefit our young people’

28 June 2019. Read online at https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/education-and-business-leaders-support-edf-sizewell-c-1-6130929

Education and business leaders from across the region have hailed the Sizewell C project as a “once in a generation” opportunity to boost skills among local people.

The group, including headteachers, CEOs and a university’ vice-chancellor, have voiced their support for the new nuclear power station, arguing it will “boost employment, education and skills” and play an “essential role” in tackling climate change.

In an open letter published today, the leaders said: “We support Sizewell C because we support the East of England.”

Suffolk New College principal, Viv Gillespie, said the college was “happy to offer support and backing on this issue”.

“As a college, we naturally work with the business community to help develop partnerships that will help benefit both Suffolk New College students and local organisations,” she said.

“We offer a range of courses at the college and are developing further STEM programmes that can support the creation of a new workforce of tomorrow for a range of organisations (including Sizewell C).”

Jim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director, said: “We welcome this letter of support from education, business and charity sector leaders in the region. The construction and operation of Sizewell C will bring thousands of new jobs to the local area and provide a boost in skills, training and education.

“We are working closely with a network of local schools, colleges and charities to raise aspirations, develop training opportunities and apprenticeships for young people, who will then be equipped with skills they can use throughout their careers, either as part of the project or more widely in the local community.”

‘Visitors will be driven away’

Sizewell C will sit next to the existing stations of Sizewell B and A on the Suffolk coastline – but there are concerns about the impact it will have the environment and the damage the building of the new site could cause to the Suffolk countryside.

Alison Downes, co-chair of Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS), said: “We are dismayed that this support for Sizewell C and the East of England neglects to consider the damage to the riches of our environment, and entirely ignores losses to tourism income and jobs brought about by the impacts of a massive 10+ year construction project on our beautiful landscape.

“Noise, pollution, damage to the AONB and extreme traffic congestion will certainly drive visitors away for an extended period.

“Given that EDF is planning to build a campus at Eastbridge for 2,400 construction workers, plus a caravan site for a further 600, that’s a huge number of people who are not from the local area working on the project. And indeed, according to the Office of National Statistics, our district enjoys some of the lowest levels of unemployment in the country.

“Nuclear power is not the only solution to our climate crisis; the carbon footprint of such a huge construction project as Sizewell C will be enormous.

“Of course we want our children to have a bright future, but surely not at any price.”

EDF has held a series of consultations over the proposals as they prepare to make a formal planning application.

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‘Develop home-grown talent’

The letter, signed by 10 leaders from the education and business sectors, said: “Sizewell C offers a once in a generation opportunity to boost employment, education and skills in the region and will play an essential role in tackling the climate change crisis. We must take this opportunity for the benefit of our children and theirs too.

“We can see the progress being made at Hinkley Point C in Somerset and how the impact of construction is being balanced by the huge opportunities for local people.

“Just two years into the project there are 4,000 workers on the site each day – half from the local area and 400 apprentices already learning new skills. Contracts with businesses in the region have already reached Ā£1.5billion. Sizewell C will offer similar benefits for Suffolk. “Young people in this region deserve the same opportunities through Sizewell C which will bring 1,000 apprenticeships and thousands of jobs to the area.

“Our schools, colleges and youth organisations are working with the existing power station Sizewell B and the Sizewell C project. We want to develop home-grown talent and help them stay and develop their skills in the region so they can live, work and bring up their families in an area with a bright future.

“We support Sizewell C because we support the East of England.”

Signed:

Professor David J Richardson, Vice-Chancellor & President, University of East Anglia

Dr Nikos Savvas, Principal, West Suffolk College

Dan Mayhew, Principal, Alde Valley Academy

Stuart Rimmer, Principal, East Coast College

Viv Gillespie, Principal, Suffolk New College

Terry Baxter, CEO, Inspire Suffolk

Emma Ratzer, CEO, Access Community Trust

John Dugmore, CEO, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

Doug Field, Chair, New Anglia LEP

Simon Gray, CEO, East of England Energy Group