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Tense wait for decision on Sizewell

PUBLISHED: 09:47 22 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:25 06 July 2010

COMMUNITIES living near the proposed site for a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast face an anxious wait to hear the outcome of a government consultation on the scheme.

COMMUNITIES living near the proposed site for a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast face an anxious wait to hear the outcome of a government consultation on the scheme.

A public consultation on the ten proposed sites for new nuclear reactors around the UK, which includes a new facility at Sizewell, closes today and the government is expected to use the responses to come up with a finalised strategy later this year.

The consultation, organised by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), gave members of the public, local authorities and businesses the chance to comment on the draft nuclear national policy statement which outlines the government's ambitious project to build new nuclear power stations to help reduce carbon emissions.

Backers of nuclear power have insisted that the new stations will help the UK meet is target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth by 2020 and by 80pc by 2050, as well as creating many new jobs.

However Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell campaign, said: “There has been a lack of information for the public here at Sizewell.

“We have made detailed representations to the DECC. Last month, we also presented our thoughts to a parliamentary select committee at the House of Commons which will be reviewing this consultation and we expect their report to be presented to the government in March.

“We're hoping of course that they will agree that the public consultation has been entirely inadequate.”

Suffolk Coastal District Council has also raised concerns about the costs which it would incur if a planning application for a new reactor at Sizewell is put forward as it would have to pay for full analysis of the application, local consultation and the monitoring of any conditions imposed.

Andy Smith, Suffolk Coastal District Council's deputy leader and cabinet member for planning, said: “Usually we would be able to rely on the fees from the planning applications to fund this work, but the government intends that its new Infrastructure Planning Commission will retain the entire fee for the application and make the final decision.

“We will have no choice but to seek funding from the applicant, EDF, as we are not prepared to put this burden on to our local council taxpayers.”

Once all of the responses have been considered, the government will issue a response and revise the draft strategy accordingly. It will then be scrutinised in parliament and a final version is expected to be formally approved some time later this year.

The proposed development site at Sizewell is to the north of the current Sizewell B reactor and it is estimated that a new power station could see the number of people employed at the site increase to about 900.

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