The Government is proposing to build a new nuclear power station at Sizewell. I am working hard to make sure that Suffolk Coastal reaps the benefits this opportunity will bring in terms of new high skilled jobs, education opportunities and infrastructure investment.
I sit on the Joint Local Authority Group (JLAG) and the Sizewell Stakeholders Group (SSG). These are designed to make sure that local people's voices are taken into account when considering the construction phase of the project and the legacy it will bring.
30 September 2020
Relevant Representation of Dr Thérése Coffey MP for Suffolk Coastal concerning EDF’s proposals for the Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station
Tackling climate change and ensuring we have enough electricity as we phase out fossil fuels is vital to the success and sustainability of this country. Nuclear power as a zero carbon energy source is a key part of the energy mix and Sizewell is an important nuclear cluster, generating electricity before the area was designated an AONB in 1970. The economic gain from a project the size of this would be really positively felt - with the creation of thousands of jobs including well-paid, long term jobs - but changes need to be made even at this stage to get my full support.
The construction of Sizewell C is extremely important for the UK's future energy supply. While I recognise and understand why many local residents are opposed, nuclear power has been a long-standing sector in our part of Suffolk – and the construction of a new nuclear reactor would have significant benefits for the local community and local economy, which is very important for local prosperity given the low average income in this part of Suffolk and the country.
That said, I recognise that many people have moved or retired here to enjoy the very special nature and environment of the Suffolk coast and will not have experienced the construction of Sizewell B nor Sizewell A. I fully understand their concerns that a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell will create significant disruption to local communities and the transport network, especially during the construction phase. I also share people’s concerns about the environmental impact. Mitigation against all of these impacts is absolutely key.
There is a further cohort of constituents who have always opposed nuclear power and think it unsafe. Our regulatory regime is best in class and I do have full confidence in the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR). I declare that as Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the ONR is an arms’ length body sponsored by DWP. I met the ONR early on in my time as an MP and have facilitated conversations between the ONR and officials and councillors, particularly during the GDA stage of the type of reactor being proposed at Sizewell C. It is through those conversations that it quickly became clear that aesthetic design changes to the reactor would not be possible, unlike what had happened with the iconic Sizewell B. None of those meetings happened since I became a DWP minister.
Ever since I became the MP in 2010, the consideration of Sizewell C has taken a significant part of my time. I have worked with our local councils, residents, businesses and other organisations to go through the details of this huge project. I want to pay tribute to our councillors and particularly our council officers for the amount of work they have done on much more of the detailed assessment and consideration they have undertaken. Over the summer, I have read through the documentation and held meetings with key organisations and regulators including Network Rail, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Essex & Suffolk Water. I rely considerably on the regulators’ examinations and submissions regarding environmental matters. I also will refer regularly to the submissions made by the district and county councils which understandably have asked for changes particularly regarding transport and the natural environment.
I wish to bring the following matters to the Examining Authority’s attention:
I still think an increase in the proportion of freight arriving on site from rail and sea-borne transport methods should be provided during the construction phase. The documents confirm that over 60% of materials are proposed to be transported into the site by HGV. I understand that a jetty cannot be constructed because of environmental concerns and potential coastal erosion issues but EDF really do need to maximise the amount of materials that can come in by sea by increasing the use of the beach landing facility. Similarly, considering the constraints on sea freight, it is disappointing that EDF have not developed proposals to upgrade the East Suffolk line by commissioning the GRIP 3 process to ensure a greater percentage of construction material is delivered by rail.
As the County Council’s response notes, the rail-led strategy previously proposed would have resulted in allowing a minimum of five rail deliveries per 24-hrs which would all have taken place during the day. This is compared to the now proposed three rail deliveries per 24-hrs, mostly taking place at night-time – as the capacity of the line won’t have been increased by building the passing loop. It is disappointing that a solution was not found for the passing loop. Currently, there are no night-time rail movements on the East Suffolk Line or the Leiston branch line and I’m concerned on behalf of constituents that rail movements during construction will adversely impact the residents of Woodbridge, Melton, Saxmundham and to a certain extent, Leiston, before the new branch line is built into the construction site. I would urge the examining authority to challenge this and that if the passing loop is not constructed then to put conditions to ensure the relevant mitigation is put in place to minimise both vibration and noise. I am not an engineer but I understand that there are a variety of mitigations that could be undertaken including requiring welding and lubrication to the track to reduce vibrations and train screech, sound barriers and also the use of quieter rolling stock (which are available in the UK). The green rail route is welcomed though as it removes the unloading activity from the centre of Leiston into the site itself. I should declare an interest as I live quite close to the East Suffolk railway line.
In the event that the examiners consider EDF’s transport strategy acceptable, then I back Suffolk County Council’s (as Highway Authority) list of additional assurances and mitigations required for the road network. Limiting the number of lorry movements to that used in Hinkley or capping at the number that would have been the case in the rail led strategy of earlier proposals would go a considerable way to reducing the impact on local communities and other businesses. I also consider the use of ANPR an effective way to ensure compliance on the modes of transport and routes used for the conveyance of materials and people to and from the site.
Sizewell Link Road
I support the construction of a new Sizewell Link Road to take the pressure off the B1122 and the communities of Theberton and Middleton Moor during the construction phase but would strongly suggest that this should be removed on the completion of the project rather than kept as proposed by the DCO application. A permanent road in that location would have a detrimental impact on the landscape and have no legacy benefit.
I strongly support this scheme by-passing the villages of Stratford St Andrew and Farnham and it is absolutely essential this is put in place prior to construction. It has been a longstanding ambition to upgrade the A12 in this location, albeit on a larger scale. I think it is right to bypass the two villages, rather than the solution of only bypassing Farnham proposed in earlier consultations. There is still an issue of contention on the precise routing, particularly regarding Foxburrow Wood. I would encourage Natural England to resolve with EDF the precise status of the woodlands (in regards to protection levels) and to modify the route as appropriate.
It seems from the documentation that EDF have done a lot of work on this to ensure mitigation. The question for Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Marine Management Organisation though is whether it is enough. As the Defra Minister responsible for the 25-year Environment Plan when it was published, I’m keen to see this scheme stand out as an environmental exemplar with EDF contributing to nature recovery as well as just mitigation. The examining authority needs to look carefully at whether the regulators are satisfied that the measures submitted are enough to ensure the safe protection of Minsmere and Sizewell Marshes. I am aware of the issue regarding the SSSI and encourage EDF to proactively change their plan to be in line with the requirements of Natural England and the Environment Agency. There is also the need to adequately address the issues regarding light and noise pollution, principally on the site, though there are measures that can be taken along the transport routes to mitigate, e.g. window glazing and black out blinds.
I note the mitigation plans that have been submitted to prevent any additional coastal erosion from that which would naturally occur. It is important that regulators are satisfied with that mitigation and that the relevant monitoring programme is also put in place. There is a specific issue regarding a phase in the construction where there will be an increase to flooding risk upon removing the sea wall (albeit temporary) and back-up flood defences are clearly needed.
There are significant points in the construction phase where significant amounts (circa 3 megalitres) of water per day are required for cooling tunnels. Having spoken to the Environment Agency and Essex and Suffolk Water (ESW), this is significantly higher than previously planned. I am confident that the proposals put forward by ESW – which does not rely on very local water sources – will be sufficient though they are dependent on EDF contracting prior to DCO outcome to ensure that the water can be piped in at the necessary moment in the timeline. More information is required on this as well as assurances there won’t be any risk to private water supplies as a result.
I understand the concerns regarding the proposed site for the accommodation campus at Eastbridge. I had previously asked EDF and the local council to find different sites but I understand the local authority have been unable to find viable alternatives. Whilst the location selected is not ideal, I recognise the work EDF have done throughout the various consultation stages to reduce the height, with the tallest buildings closest to the reactor site. Although not ideal, an accommodation campus close to the site will also reduce traffic movements. Various funds have been proposed including a housing fund to help take the pressure off the local housing market, details of which need to be worked through with the council.
I recognise and welcome that off-site sports pitches will also be provided as part of the campus including a 3G pitch and two multi-use games areas at Alde Valley School and adjacent to Leiston Leisure Centre. As well as construction workers sharing these with the school and community during construction - the pitches will also be left as a legacy benefit.
Impact on other businesses
Tourism is an important part of the Suffolk economy and I am conscious of the concerns of some local employers and organisations on whether tourists will be put off by the large construction site and whether their employees will migrate to work on the construction. While it is for individuals to decide for whom to work, I think issues can be addressed through any mitigation funding and legacy benefits.
In conclusion, while there is a significant amount of work that needs to take place during the DCO process including satisfying regulators that appropriate mitigation measures are put in place and further work with the county and district councils regarding transport, the environmental impact and legacy, I do think that the local and national economic gain plus the national and global environmental gain - including jobs, skills and legacy benefits, the UK’s future energy need and contribution to achieving zero carbon – means that I support the construction of Sizewell C.
02 APR 2019
Sizewell C - Therese's Response to the Third Stage of Consultation
This is my response to the Stage 3 consultation for Sizewell C as the Member of Parliament for Suffolk Coastal and local resident.
The construction of Sizewell C is extremely important for the UK's future energy supply and will benefit the local community here in Suffolk, with the creation of thousands of jobs including well-paid, long term jobs. That is very important for local prosperity given the very low average income in this part of Suffolk. That said, I recognise that many people have moved or retired here to enjoy the very special nature and environment of the Suffolk coast and will not have experienced the construction of Sizewell B. I fully understand their concerns that a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell will create significant disruption to local communities and the transport network, especially during the construction phase. Mitigation against these impacts is key. There have been some significant changes from Stage 2 consultation, though not all of my concerns that I expressed in the Stage 2 consultation have been addressed. I have attended the Sizewell C Community Forum. I continue to participate in the Joint Local Authority Group as an observer. The councils have submitted and published their responses separately.
The marine-led option from Stage 2 is discarded. Their environmental assessment excludes the jetty, though there will still need to be a beach landing facility. I think that is regrettable and we certainly need more information on why it has been discarded. This leaves a rail-led and road-led strategy. Both provide certain transport mitigations, namely a 2-village by-pass for Stratford St Andrew and Farnham, a by-pass south of Theberton, park and ride facilities at Darsham and Wickham Market and a new roundabout at Yoxford. If the road-led strategy is chosen, further traffic mitigations include a new Sizewell link road from the A12 between Saxmundham and Yoxford, bypassing Middleton Moor and Theberton and a link from the B1122 down to the new road. There will also be freight management centres on the A14 near Seven Hills or Innocence Farm. If the rail-led strategy is chosen, a new branch line from Leiston into the construction site would be built to carry the extra 5 freight trains a day needed along with a new level crossing on the B1122. 12 level crossings would be closed and rights of way diverted. I understand English Heritage are more comfortable with this option. The new branch line and level crossing to facilitate it would be removed after the construction phase is finished.
EDF need to justify why the marine-led option has been eliminated. Of what remains in the consultation, my preference is for the rail-led strategy. I understand it requires Network Rail to provide significant upgrades on the East Suffolk line and I beleive that possible. The lasting legacy is less impacting with rail-led provision. EDF has highlighted the risk of this strategy is that it would not be entirely in their control as it would depend on Network Rail. I have met the Rail Minister and Network Rail on this matter. The Traffic Works Order can take time to secure but it can also be included in the planning application. In any event, I want to see further improvements along the A12, particularly at the roundabout by Seckford Hall and possibly making that stretch of the A12 dual carriageway (with a reduced speed limit of perhaps 50mph). Seven Hills roundabout will also need enhancing.
I have had significant representation from residents about the road-led strategy being undesirable, especially regarding the link road and the increased number of lorry movements. I agree.
I understand concerns remain regarding the proposed site for the accommodation campus at Eastbridge. I have previously asked EDF to find different sites and I understand the local council have been unable to find viable alternatives. I do recognise that EDF have made improvements and the car park will be closest to the village. The accommodation itself will be reduced to a maximum height of 4 floors, with the tallest buildings closes to the reactor site. A housing and tourism impact fund is suggested. Details are to be worked through with the local council. An accommodation office for workers will help guide them to EDF provided site as well as longer-term housing options. I have spoken to residents and attended a Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell exhibition and appreciate that whilst other sites would be preferred, with none forthcoming, further mitigation could be done. I think several suggestions are well thought through, including measures to reduce light pollution.
The leisure facilities in Leiston, adjacent to the Leisure Centre and Alde Valley School, will be kept as a lasting legacy for the community, these will include 1-2 multi-use games areas and a synthetic 3G football pitch. Other aspects of community mitigation have yet to be discussed with the councils. There is ongoing work regarding skills and employment in partnership with the councils, LEP and business organisations. More detail is still needed on the environmental aspect, especially regarding new pylons on the site itself. These new pylons concern me. EDF should provide the analysis on why the alternative solution is not viable. I should state though that Sizewell A was created before the AONB was created and I accept the nuclear cluster approach which the government has taken.
What is not addressed in this consultation is the cumulative impact of a number of energy projects. I have recently submitted a response to the consultation on SPR infrastructure projects. These risk significant damage to the natural environment and need to be considered in the round.
15 JAN 2019.
Sizewell C - Third Stage of Consultation
The third stage of public consultation on Sizewell C is now open. There have been quite a few changes since the last round of consultation so I would encourage you to read and reply to the consultation document which closes on the 29th March.
EDF is also holding a series of public exhibitions across eastern Suffolk throughout January. Details of which can be found here.
I attended their public exhibition in Saxmundham last weekend and I'm currently formulating my early thoughts, which I will share shortly with residents before I reply formally to the consultation.
13 FEB 2017
Sizewell C - Therese's Response to the Second Stage of Consultation
EDF's stage 2 consultation for the construction of Sizewell C came to end on the 3rd February 2017 and I responded with my views.
My full response to the consultation is set out below:
Sizewell C Stage 2 Consultation Response
The construction of Sizewell C is extremely important for the UK's future energy supply and will benefit the local economy here in Suffolk, with the creation of thousands of jobs. That said, a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell will create significant disruption to local communities and the transport network, especially during the construction phase. It is essential that these impacts are mitigated as much as possible and it is in this context I respond to EDF's proposals at Stage 2 consultation.
I recognise that we have had a nuclear power plant on the AONB at Sizewell for 60 years and EDF have an admirable record of environmental management. More information is required and I would expect a draft Environmental Impact Assessment to be submitted at Stage 3.
Recognising the GDA process limits changes to key nuclear components, the elements that can be adjusted should be made as aesthetically pleasing as possible to fit in the local environment. Unnecessary light pollution should be avoided.
I want to see as much construction material come in by sea and rail as possible rather than putting more pressure on our road network. The potential of both sea and rail methods of transport need to be maximised rather than one or the other.
I support the building of a jetty that can facilitate the maximum amount of construction material coming in by sea but that does the least amount of damage to the environment. I think there is a case for the wide jetty but it isn't clear what impact it will have on coastal defences and if it does, how EDF will mitigate that. More information is required on this element.
I support the temporary extension of the Sax-Leiston branch line – the green route – to bring material to the site.
EDF's options 1, 2 and 3 are unacceptable. Option 1 suggesting no change, isn't an option at all. Option 2 and Option 3, the road widening and a one village bypass just for Farnham isn't acceptable. Option 4, a two village bypass for Farnham and Stratford St Andrew is the minimum mitigation required. A business case is being worked up for a 4 village bypass, as part of the full Suffolk Energy Gateway, a proposal EDF should consider in conjunction with Suffolk County Council as part of the Stage 3 consultation.
None of the proposals are adequate to mitigate the huge increase in traffic that will take place along the B1122. If EDF is to proceed with B1122 options, by passes should be considered. EDF should set out in detail, whilst recognising the national planning policy statement, why options explored for Sizewell B, namely the D2 route, haven't been investigated for Sizewell C.
A12 turnoff at Yoxford
This particular issue needs considerably more work by EDF. It is not evidenced that either option, the signalised junction or roundabout, will solve the problem. It was previously suggested that a double roundabout would be feasible without demolition of houses there.
Further Highway Improvements
The construction of Sizewell C will have a much wider impact on the road network than just those set out in the consultation. The impact further down the A12 and the A14 needs to be assessed and potential mitigation measures worked up.
The A12 should be dualled both ways between the Seckford roundabout, the junction with the B1438 and the Wyevale roundabout, the junction with the B1079.
I am also concerned about the capacity of the Seven Hills roundabout at the A14 junction and the Woods Lane roundabout at the junction with the A1152, which need assessing.
Park & Ride
I support both the park & ride sites at Darsham and Wickham Market as set out in the consultation. I don't support the reserve site at Woodbridge and would not support that being taken forward if the Wickham Market site is dropped.
I do not support either options 1 or 2, which both put forward a single accommodation campus site at Eastbridge in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. EDF have yet to provide a compelling reason why the accommodation campus for Sizewell should be different to Hinkley, which is not next to the construction site. There are opportunities within 15 minutes of Sizewell which have not been explored. I would therefore like EDF to conduct a full appraisal of alternative sites prior to Stage 3 consultation.
I agree with the proposal that sports facilities should be located in Leiston to provide a legacy benefit for the local community.
15 JAN 2013
EDF 1ST Round Proposals
This is the text of a letter that Therese sent to constituents that gives her initial thoughts on most of the EDF proposals.
This consultation does not refer specifically to the creation of a nuclear power station or its safety. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has given its approval to the design proposed by EDF and its supplier Areva. The ONR will grant a site licence and is responsible for assuring safety.
Sizewell B design is iconic. Sizewell C should be of a similar appearance with cosmetic changes as appropriate rather than changing fundamental design of the reactor.
EDF wants to build something like halls of residence or a group of Travelodge-style accommodation with on-site catering and sports facilities. It wants just 1 campus of 2-3000 bed spaces.
I oppose sites 1 and 2. Site 3 could be changed to bring the accommodation blocks closer to the main road. This would provide the infrastructure (water, gas, broadband, etc.) for new housing on that site in the future. Perhaps this site should be capped at a certain number of bed spaces and an additional accommodation site should be considered elsewhere in the district. The site close to the A12 in Saxmundham has been suggested.
Park and Ride / Lorry Management
North: We need more information but the only realistic site of these is Option 2. This will leave a legacy option next to the rail station. Option 1 on the B1122 is completely out of the question, due to the already constrained junction with the A12. Option 3 (by Little Chef) is too close to A144 junction.
South: In any event, no freight consolidation should be done there but at a site by Option 3 is too close to dangerous junction. The Wickham Market Option 1 could work but still has a lot of traffic going up the A12 with single carriageway. Most likely is Option 2 by Woodbridge. This would leave no legacy benefit as it is not appropriate to have mass building west of the A12. However, the pull on/pull off needs to be modified to prevent backups at the roundabout. The Seckford Hall roundabout should be improved with a filter lane to allow free-flowing traffic.
Freight: I have concerns about all the sites. Congestion on the A14 and by Seven Hills is already a concern. With some modifications, Orwell East or West could work. I had thought the Orwell sites would be ruled out but they are the preference, so far, of the County and Emergency Services.
I think the blue route provides least technical issues and takes material straight into site.
None of the options for the A12 address the full issues. The 1 village bypass solves the Farnham bend at first sight but cuts right through local amenity land. Without any other option presented by EDF, the only credible alternative is a 4 villages bypass. EDF needs to present more data.
The impact on residents along the B1122 and at the turnoff of the A12 will be highly significant, compared to everyday traffic. I have long thought an alternative road is needed, though that sentiment is not universally shared. In any event, significant improvements to the road and pathways, perhaps combined with double glazing for all houses and speed limiters. The route from the Southern Park and Ride is not finalised and alternative routes could be considered rather than the B1122. On visiting the A12 turnoff, it was thought a double roundabout by Yoxford would be feasible without demolition of houses there. This particular issue needs considerably more work by EDF and the County Council.
03 JAN 2013
Sizewell C - Your MP wants to hear your view
Therese will be holding a series of community meetings in the New Year to hear your views on Sizewell C. Meetings will take place on Friday 18th January in Leiston, Yoxford, Middleton, Theberton, Eastbridge, Woodbridge and Stratford St Andrew. She will be setting out her thoughts on the issues but primarily she want to hear from you. The times for each meeting are as follows:
09:00 Woodbridge The National Hall, Sun Lane Woodbridge, IP12 1EG
13:30 Stratford St Andrew Riverside Centre, Mill Lane, Stratford St Andrew, IP17 1LN
15:00 Yoxford Yoxford Village Hall, Old High Rd, Yoxford, IP17 3HN
16:30 Middleton Middleton Village Hall, Mill Lane, Middleton, IP17 3NG
18:00 Leiston Sizewell Sports & Social Club, King George's Ave, Leiston, IP16 4JX
20:00 Theberton The Lion Inn, Main Road, Theberton, IP16 4RU
21:00 Eastbridge The Eel's Foot Inn, Eastbridge, IP16 4SN
Extra Meeting Added: Saturday 19th January - 09:00 Sizewell Beach View Holiday Park, IP16 4TU
If you intend to come along please e-mail, Patti Mulcahy, at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Therese said: "I fully understand local concerns on the significant impact and disruption that accompanies such a large project. This is the first stage of a marathon negotiation and it is important that public opinion is conveyed to EDF. It is essential local residents benefit as much as possible from the project including maximising improvements to infrastructure."
20 NOV 2012
Sizewell C Consultation
The first stage of consultation for Sizewell C has now opened and will run until 6th February 2013. I urge you to have a look at the document and respond with your views here.
I believe the construction of Sizewell C will create thousands of jobs and will provide a massive boost the local economy. I met the County Council's lead officers on skills and education to press the importance of how we must ensure young people and existing workforce are equipped to take advantage of these opportunities. Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is already coordinating business efforts through its supplier microsite. However, with construction comes significant disruption including traffic and housing. Leiston residents have a key choice to make concerning whether the temporary housing could actually be developed into future housing. We need the best engineeering on the jetty to avoid coastal erosion. The rail loop and track may have legacy benefits. On roads, I know residents in the 4 villages will be disappointed that only a Farnham bend by-pass was proposed but this is early days in the marathon negotiation. I have particular concerns on the A12/B1122 turnoff and impact on the villages of Middleton Moor and Theberton. It is important that Suffolk residents benefit as much as possible from Sizewell C, including maximising improvements to infrastructure. So have your say.