Sizewell C and the Friston substation are energy infrastructure projects which divide opinion across Suffolk Coastal. My position has been reached after extensive consultation with local communities, trade unions, and the Labour Party at national and constituency level.
Suffolk Coastal Labour does not support the concept of ‘The Energy Coast’. The branding itself puts at risk the visitor and tourist economy of East Suffolk which depends on The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It conflicts with established identities such as ‘The Sunshine Coast’ and ‘The Heritage Coast’. The huge industrial projects proposed threaten the local economy and environment without bringing any benefits. Traffic congestion on the A12 and rural roads will discourage visitors and compromise the quality of life of local residents.
Suffolk Coastal Labour is unequivocally opposed to the Scottish Power Renewables proposals for the development of onshore infrastructure at Friston. This is a totally inappropriate location for the major industrial structures of which SPR
is just the first. Further developments, in the same location, are already proposed by National Grid Ventures and others. The road infrastructure will not sustain these and planners are not considering the ‘cumulative impact’ of multiple projects.
The location at Friston is being driven by National Grid, which has refused to be accountable to local people in the process of consultation. Labour will take National Grid into public ownership to ensure that investment plans take account of the needs of all national assets, including the environment. Public ownership of energy networks
will ensure that investment projects are effectively coordinated and project managed.
Suffolk Coastal Labour fully supports offshore wind electricity generation and interconnectors. National Grid and the offshore wind and interconnector project developers must work together on a brown field location, using technological solutions, to minimise the scale and impact of onshore infrastructure.
Labour remains committed to nuclear power needed for energy security. In Suffolk Coastal, Labour opposes the development of new nuclear capacity at Sizewell. The Sizewell C development cannot be undertaken without unacceptable impacts on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It will compromise the future of RSPB Minsmere, and, especially during the construction period, other Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the highly sensitive local environment. It will threaten jobs and prosperity in the visitor and tourist economy, the agricultural sector and food and drink industries. It offers very few new permanent jobs for local people. Current proposals to mitigate the worst effects of the construction project are grossly underfunded and will not relieve the impact of huge numbers of vehicle movements for goods and people on the A12 and surrounding rural roads. There are no proposals to invest adequately in rail alternatives.
Labour is firmly committed to the existing workforce at Sizewell and will work with trade unions to support energy workers through the transition to greener alternative energy jobs and guarantee retraining and a new, unionised job on equivalent terms and conditions.
Suffolk Coastal Labour is shocked by the decision of East Suffolk Council to approve the clearance of Coronation Wood and other enabling works for Sizewell C before a decision has been taken on the future of the project.