Sizewell power station emergency centre plans to be discussed

PROPOSALS to build an emergency response centre (ERC) on the Suffolk coast for use in the event of nuclear fallout or disaster look set to be given the green light next week.

Suffolk Coastal District Council will discuss EDF Energy's plans – for a brownfield site at the Sizewell B railhead, on the outskirts of Leiston on Wednesday.

The 1,500 sq m scheme would house back-up plant and equipment storage and office space associated with the company's nuclear emergency arrangements.

A report to the district council's north area development control sub-committee recommends the proposals be given the go ahead – subject to a number of conditions.

Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council has recommended the plans be refused, as members do not wish to see the railhead compromised for the expected need during future new build.

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They also feel the building would be a visual intrusion and that other sites are more appropriate.

Objections have also been received from neighbours living close to the site.

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But the report, to be considered by councillors next Wednesday, reads: 'Whilst the concerns of the town council are understandable, it is clear from the applicant's submission that a great deal of thought has gone into choosing this location and that the railhead will not be compromised by the new buildings.

'In terms of the design it is considered that the building would not, in the town council's words, 'be a visual intrusion', but it is acknowledged that suitable additional landscaping will be required.' The ERC is one of a number of changes identified following an independent review into the UK nuclear facilities by the Office of Nuclear Regulation. It concluded that UK facilities had 'no fundamental weaknesses' but, following recommendations and its own safety study, EDF Energy identified areas of improvement.

Ahead of finalising its plans the company held an informal public consultation, including a two-day public exhibition.

If given permission, it is hoped the ERC will be ready by spring 2014, with construction beginning later this year.

The plans are recommended for approval subject to a number of conditions, including restrictions on hours of construction and implementation of landscaping.

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