A Summary of Melton Parish Council’s Written Representation to the Planning Inspectorate – Wednesday 2nd June 2021
Melton’s Location – straddles the main southern approaches to Sizewell by road and rail. The A1152, which transits the centre of the village, funnels heavy and growing traffic from businesses and households in the Deben Peninsula, to and from the A12. The A1152 is also used as an alternative route of choice, avoiding the A12.
SZC Overall – MPC’s believes SZC will bring dis-benefits to the local environment that far outweigh the opportunities for investment and any legacy benefits accruing from its construction.
SZC Process – MPC contends that a democratic deficit was opened-up on EDF’s planning application when it rushed through highly significant proposals to change the DCO and failed to reconvene the Community Forum. MPC has consulted its parish residents twice on the SZC proposals. Firstly, in 2019 on the substantive SZC planning application. Secondly, in May 2021, when we leafletted every household about EDF’s the night train proposal, inviting a response via an on-line survey.
Main Development Site – MPC does not consider Sizewell a suitable location for a new nuclear power station because it is in an AONB and there are other serious disadvantages with this site. EDF also plans to install new pylons for SZC. This invasive approach was avoided in the 1980s for Sizewell B, as it should be in the 21st century for SZC. We believe this to be a cost saving measure, not an unsolvable technical problem – and it should be reversed.
SZC Freight Management Strategy – fails to deliver adequate investment in transport infrastructure that is essential for the project. The Strategy’s “deliverability” should be scrutinised closely.
Roads – MPC is concerned that major developments locally have had a cumulative impact on the strategic highways network, creating an investment need that has not been met by the incremental approach of the statutory planning process. There are currently significant road traffic problems on both the A12 and the A1152 – the latter has several serious “pinch-points” on its short length between the A12 and Wilford Bridge roundabouts. The main report gives details on current problems and explains how SZC would seriously exacerbate them. MPC suggests a number of mitigations:
- It should be dualled continuously from Woodbridge to its junction with the A1094 at Friday Street.
- A dualled 4-village bypass scheme should be built, similar to that promoted by Suffolk County Council (SCC) within its Suffolk Energy Gateway scheme. At Stage 3 of the SZC consultation, EDF said it supported SCC’s scheme and was prepared to provide a financial contribution in lieu of a two-village bypass.
A1152 – There is an urgent need for:
- an intervention to cut the volume of traffic on the A1152 passing through Melton to access the A12.
- the dog-legged level crossing at Melton Station to be upgraded and straightened out;
- an improvement to the physical highway to relieve the serious traffic congestion at the Melton crossroads traffic lights, next to our Primary School.
Rail – The main report provides information on the East Suffolk Line and goes into detail on the rail infrastructure within Melton. Crucially, the stretch of line between Melton and Saxmundham is single track only. The line requires a dual-tracking upgrade to be resilient enough to carry a major increase in train movements, day or night – a point made repeatedly by MPC over the past 2 years. Without this upgrade, any strategy to move more freight by rail isn’t viable.
EDF’s proposes to run up to eight freight trains per night, at average intervals of 49 minutes, through Melton. MPC objects to EDF’s inconsistent policy with regard to freight movements at night. Night movements are banned for all road freight, and for rail freight movements in Leiston, on the grounds the noise and vibration would be an unacceptable disturbance to residents. Melton deserves similar consideration.
Residents’ responses to the on-line survey have confirmed MPC’s view that freight movement by Sea is its first choice mode of transport. Rail in daytime-only is its second choice.
Most residents oppose night trains. They tell us their real-world experience of train noise and vibration is more profound and intrusive (and carries further) than EDF’s interpretation of the technical measurements recorded for its Environmental Statement and more recent studies. Details of every resident’s response can be found in the main report.
Woodbridge Town Council (WTC) has shared with us its extensive technical review of the impact noise and vibration from overnight trains. We agree with WTC’s contention that EDF has understated the effects of train noise through Woodbridge (and by implication Melton and other areas) in a number of ways.
MPC suggests the following key mitigations to EDF’s rail strategy (there are others in the report):
- to move more freight by Sea
- for rail freight trains to be run in daytime-only on an upgraded East Suffolk Line with dualled-track between Melton and Saxmundham, without the loss of any regular daytime passenger services;
- EDF should review its possible understatement of the effects of train noise through Woodbridge (and by implication Melton and other areas) and review its proposed mitigation measures;
People and Economy – MPC recognises SZC’s potential to deliver economic benefits but there is still insufficient clarity about their scale, or the effectiveness of EDF’s mitigation strategies. MPC considers the dis-benefits of SZC outweigh the benefits. The community would incur severe dis-benefits to transport, the environment and pollution, tourism, accommodation and community safety. While the economic benefits to the supply chain and jobs are welcome, in the latter case they fall short of expectations.
Southern Park & Ride – We note the proposed location of the Southern Park & Ride at Wickham Market We strongly re-affirm our previously stated view that the Stage 2 Consultation option for a Park & Ride site to be located adjacent to the Woods Lane (A1152) roundabout on the A12 must not be reconsidered. Given the new housing developments and additional traffic at the Woods Lane roundabout, the area adjacent to the A12 roundabout is now even more unsuitable for a Park & Ride site than it was at Stage 2.
Water Supply – SZC will need up to 3 million litres per day of potable water, from a low rainfall area where the frequency and severity of drought will worsen with climate change. We are concerned this will impact adversely on agricultural and domestic supplies and cause ecological problems in the region.
SZC Business Case and Financial Security – MPC suggests an independent expert should be appointed to:
- apply a value for money test to the whole-life financial business case for SZC
- evaluate the impact of this project on EDF’s financial capacity