9 September 2019
[Melton] Campaigners are appalled and frustrated that EDF’s application to relocate Sizewell B facilities (application DC/19/1637/FUL) was today approved by East Suffolk Council by only one vote. The decision flies in the face of widespread opposition from Parish and Town Councils NGOs and members of the public to EDF’s plans, which campaigners said should only have been considered as part of a Sizewell C Development Consent Order (DCO) application.
“We strongly oppose East Suffolk Council’s decision to approve this application when the DCO request for Sizewell C has neither been submitted nor approved. If Sizewell C does not go ahead – and there are many reasons why it might not, including uncertain financing and major environmental obstacles – the AONB will have been needlessly damaged.” said Paul Collins of Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell.
The Suffolk Preservation Society, which strongly objected the application and also questions whether the site is big enough to house two reactors, expressed its dismay. Director Fiona Cairns said: “This decision fails the most basic test of planning policy and probity. The wanton removal of a century-old wood is unacceptable in itself. The fact that this destruction might turn out to be unnecessary should Sizewell C not go ahead, shows the planning system in its worst light. You can’t replace 100 year-old trees overnight!”
Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council, supported by a number of other Parish and Town Councils, will now ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to “call in“ the application and consider it for a planning inquiry.  EDF’s proposals to relocate a number of Sizewell B facilities would destroy all of Coronation Wood and up to 50% of Pill Box Field in order to make space for the construction of Sizewell C. Even so, EDF would have only 32 hectares available to accommodate the massive twin reactor project, which at Hinkley Point is occupying 45 hectares.
Stephen Brett, Theberton and Eastbridge Parish Council Chair said: “We will now ask the Secretary of State to call this application in, in order to ensure there is proper consideration of how these proposals will damage a nationally designated area which is adjacent to other protected wildlife habitats of both national and international importance.”
A range of statutory consultees and NGOs expressed opposition to EDF’s application, and were supported by around 100 letters and emails of objection from members of the public. East Suffolk Council acknowledged that no letters or emails of support were received. Campaigners consider that EDF should be able to upgrade its facilities without destroying more of the AONB.
EDF aims to submit its DCO application in the first quarter of 2020. Discussing the environmental concerns associated with the construction of Sizewell C, Therese Coffey MP told a Public Meeting on 6 September that her assessment was that “EDF are a very, very long way from being able to get over those environmental hurdles” and that she was “struggling to understand” how EDF can overcome them by March 2020. Saying she supports nuclear power entirely, she acknowledged “we do have to make the judgement, of course, is it worth building here (with the environmental problems)? And, you know, frankly the jury’s out.” 
1. The Call in can be viewed online at http://publicaccessdocuments.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/01508625.pdf
2. Dr Coffey’s remarks were noted contemporaneously and corroborated by comparing more than one source.
Photo courtesy of Allan Warner