Bill Nighy heads a line-up of celebrities who have signed a joint letter objecting to EDF’s plans for a new nuclear power station in Suffolk.
The Love Actually star has written, along with 26 fellow signatories, to the Daily Telegraph today (21 March) raising concerns about the damage they say the £14 billion Sizewell C project will cause to the Suffolk Coast and Heaths area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
The signatories include local brewery Adnams chief executive Andy Wood, former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull, comedian Helen Atkinson-Wood, novelist Esther Freud and artist Maggi Hambling.
They are particularly concerned about EDF’s plans to use local roads to transport construction materials to the site.
The company’s original plans to service the site by sea, using a jetty, had to be abandoned due to worries about the impact on marine life.
The AONB has warned that the works would “virtually” cut the protected area in two with knock on consequences on local Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
EDF is currently completing a public consultation exercise on the project to replace the existing Sizewell A and B plants, before submitting an application for development consent, with construction due to start in 2021.
The letter says: “We are deeply concerned that EDF Energy’s Sizewell C plans will lay waste to large portions of this rich and diverse part of the country.
“Landscapes, wildlife and residents of this unique part of the British Isles will suffer enormously.”
“This is not hyperbole – the level of disruption will jeopardise tourism to the AONB, valued at more than £210 million a year, as holidaymakers no longer associate the area with peace and tranquillity, and seek to avoid traffic chaos caused by the construction of Sizewell C.”
The letter follows the submission of a 1,500 strong petition from local residents to Suffolk county council objecting to EDF’s plans.
A spokesperson from EDF Energy said: “Sizewell C takes its responsibilities to the environment and local communities seriously. We have a good track record of looking after nature around our operating power station at Sizewell B and have been awarded The Wildlife Trusts’ Biodiversity Benchmark in recognition of conservation work on the Sizewell estate.
“We have developed Aldhurst Farm Wetland Habitat Creation scheme to mitigate the land required for Sizewell C. The 67 hectare site includes six hectares of wet reed habitat and extensive reedbeds and interconnecting ditch habitat and heathland.
“The environmental sensitivities of the local area have been a key consideration in the development of our proposals for Sizewell C. Our ecologists have continued to undertake environmental surveys and identify likely impacts to help inform our proposals. Our planners have worked with local councils to develop a transport strategy for workers and freight that minimises the impact on local roads.”
They added: “We understand that how our workers travel to site and how we move freight is important to local people during construction. We will use rail as well as road transport and a beach landing facility to move freight.
“We encourage local people to continue to meet with us, to share their views and take part in the consultation for a new power station in Suffolk. Our aim is to maximise the huge benefits in jobs and skills for local people, especially the young, whilst minimising the environmental impact of the project.”