Shame Halesworth solar park couldn't be 'mitigated'

Shame about the solar park near Halesworth, a loss to renewable energy. But interesting to note that local planners and politicians have placed such a high value on the beautiful Suffolk landscape and harm to the surrounding countryside (EADT 21st October). Why no mention of ‘mitigations’, the national buzzword of government policy to push through really big infrastructure projects, and the excuse being given, so far, by local decision makers about the massive Sizewell C & D project. Here, they claim, their hands are tied by special narrow, national planning rules, so mitigation has to be the order of the day.

So somehow the landscape and tourism and its jobs, and as many as 30 protected wildlife and nature areas and all of the communities on the 10 year building materials routes don’t seem to warrant similar protection for their landscape and Suffolk environment values .  Why have national organisations supposed to protect nature and birds and rare species and coastal habitats being going down the mitigation road too ?  Why is the joint Suffolk County and Suffolk Coastal Council Group in confidential talks with EdF about mitigations, instead of defending Suffolk’s essential identity and natural assets. Why does Suffolk’s much promoted Nature Strategy not mention Sizewell at all, and only plan detailed work on nature assets for 2016, and on renewable energy for 2018 when EdF hopes it will already have a green light for its non renewable project ?

They argue that their hands are tied by government. That’s wrong: only the national planning inspectors’ hands are thought to be tied, but that's not true either. They and EdF have to legally consider alternatives for every aspect of the project if Sizewell proves not suitable on proper planning and environmental and risk grounds. And other national sites are available.

What about mitigation itself ?  Ask the wildlife and protected beauty spots. How can they be moved sustainably, without risk. Can famous Minsmere, icon of Areas  of Outstanding Natural Beauty, according to the AA’s Heritage landscapes, be mitigated and remain an honest icon ? Can a huge permanent bridge and vast pier in the sea to carry 140 tonnes nuclear fuel loads be mitigated ? How can a 10 year traffic nightmare be mitigated, or a fall in house prices along miles and miles of road ?

The answer is that mitigation for Suffolk would be an unmitigated disaster - that’s why some of us who have thought things through say overall ‘No’ to Sizwell C & D.

Category: Local Letters