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East Suffolk Council approves plans to move parts of Sizewell B power station




Revised plans to move parts of the existing Sizewell B power station to facilitate the proposed new Sizewell C facility have been given the go-ahead.

East Suffolk Council’s strategic planning committee in 2019 agreed to plans put forward by EDF Energy to move some of the Sizewell B elements on land needed for Sizewell C.

Campaigners appealed that decision stating that Coronation Wood should not be felled to make way for those Sizewell B buildings to move onto that land, but the appeal was dismissed by the High Court in October last year.

The nuclear power station at Sizewell, in Suffolk, UK, with pylons in the foreground
The nuclear power station at Sizewell, in Suffolk, UK, with pylons in the foreground

EDF and Sizewell B lodged fresh plans with the main changes being proposals to keep the entirety of Pillbox Field as greenfield land, instead of having some parking there, the reduction in height of the training centre from three storeys to two and utilising the former National Grid building on the Sizewell A site, subject to agreement from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority which now manages the site.

The revised plans were approved with 15 councillors in favour and three abstaining.

A host of councillors in the meeting said the revised plans were better than those which already have consent.

Councillor Graham Elliott, who abstained, said: “If this was a new standalone planning application I would certainly have voted against it, and I don’t think we can justify the damage for the very uncertain need for the project.

“But if we refuse it we get even worse, we get the consented application.”

Councillor Stuart Bird said it was “a more preferable application” and cited the benefits this plan could have in reducing the build-time of Sizewell C, if approved by government, by up to two years.

EDF has already been undertaking some elements of the previous consent which remains the same in the latest proposals, and Coronation Wood has already been felled except for a tree which has a bat roost.

Planting on Pillbox Field has also begun.

The former Coronation Wood land will see car parking, a visitor centre, training centre and administration building constructed there.

Concerns were raised that the decision on relocating Sizewell B elements was a “cart before the horse” decision as the government has not yet made a decision on the development consent order for Sizewell C, and said that the relocation plans should be considered with that government decision.

However, the council said last year’s appeal ruled that it was appropriate for the Sizewell B relocation proposals to be decided now.

Jenny Kirtley, from Together Against Sizewell C, said that “East Suffolk Council prematurely approved this destruction [of Coronation Wood] to make way for Sizewell C approval which is still uncertain,” and felt that “Sizewell B relocation should only be considered as part of the development consent order process [for Sizewell C].”

Ward councillor TJ Haworth-Culf said that “many local people do not feel as if they are being listened to by the council,” and added: “People have concerns about tourism, how they are going to get to their houses, the noise and light and the effect on their mental health. No amount of mitigation or compensation can make anything better.”

However, Richard Jones, planning agent on behalf of EDF and Sizewell B, said the Pillbox Field land would remain entirely greenfield and feature planting of around 3,500 plants which were being picked for their tolerance to coastal conditions, a “10-fold increase”.

He said: “This application is of national strategic importance. This is because it will allow Sizewell B facilities to be relocated at least 12 months earlier than if we were to wait for the Sizewell C development consent order to deliver this scheme.”

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