On 9 April, Leaders of East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council wrote to EDF Energy urging them to fully consider how and when they will consult with local communities as part of the planning process for a new Sizewell C power station on the Suffolk coast.
EDF Energy plan to submit their Development Consent Order to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate in the next few weeks which triggers a formal process and timescale which includes a period of formal public engagement.
Whilst the two councils remain supportive of EDF Energy making the DCO submission, both councils are calling on the energy provider to consult with the two local authorities regarding their plans for speaking to the public.
There is concern that any period of consultation that begins during the current COVID-19 pandemic will not give the community the fullest opportunity possible to engage.
In a joint statement, Leader of East Suffolk Council, Councillor Steve Gallant and Leader of Suffolk County Council, Councillor Matthew Hicks said:
“Given the current Government guidance on social distancing, social isolation and public gatherings, we ask EDF Energy to delay the Section 56 consultation until such time as all parties are satisfied that appropriate public engagement can take place.
“Many of our staff are currently redeployed to support their local communities and the risk of sickness and self-isolation from the virus remains high. We are concerned that even in a few weeks’ time, it may still be incredibly challenging to consider entering a period of consultation on such an important subject.
“We feel that everyone who is interested in this development should be given the best possible opportunity to have their say. Before EDF Energy commences any public engagement, we would like them to commit to speaking to both authorities and the Government’s Planning Inspectorate so we can work with EDF Energy to see if a suitable solution can be found that works for all our communities.”