Conservation chiefs have pledged to do all they can to minimise the environmental impact of any new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast.

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They said there were a few concerns that had sprung out of EDF Energy’s initial plans for Sizewell C but were looking forward to working with the company to try and iron them out.

The pledge came on the same day as the electricity giant held the first of its public exhibitions in Leiston yesterday.

EDF Energy revealed last week that its proposed power station would be a similar size to the sites of Sizewell A and B combined.

However a much larger site would be needed for the construction phase – impacting on the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Nick Collinson, Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB manager, said they were now scrutinising all aspects of the proposed scheme to see how they could protect the landscape and minimise the impact of development. “Clearly this is a very sensitive environment and there are a number of issues that we need to look at more carefully,” he said. “We look forward to working closely with EDF.”

Julian Roughton, chief executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, which has been managing the grassland area of the Sizewell Belt for 20 years, said one area of concern was the construction of a new access road to the north of the site which would cut through the SSSI.

“We will be looking at both the footprint of Sizewell C itself and that of the construction area,” he said. “There are a number of impacts.

“Some of those we may be able to mitigate against, some we may not.

“The access road is a particular concern. There are issues around protecting species. Connectivity of habitat is very important and new roads can have a significant impact.”

He added that EDF had been very supportive in the past and he looked forward to that good relationship continuing.

The energy giant has said it will listen to all comments during the consultation period, which runs until February 6.

Its plans outline that once Sizewell C is complete the construction area would be restored to its natural state, while it will also look at the possibility of creating replacement habitats nearby.

For more details on the consultation visit http://sizewell.edfenergyconsultation.info.

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