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Sizewell C paves the way for environmental consideration

Words: Laura Edgar

Sizewell C's evidence plan shows how environmental protection can be at the centre of large-scale developments, claims Natural England

EDF Energy has drawn up the evidence plans alongside various relevant bodies including the Environment Agency, Suffolk County Council and the RSPB, while the planning inspectorate had a watching brief. They lay out the information the company intends to collect to inform a Habitat Regulations Assessment for the proposed Suffolk power station. The site is close to internationally important wetland, heathland and marine habitats home to several protected species.

Evidence plans, launched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2012, are available to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project applicants in England in agreement with the relevant statutory nature conservation bodies.

The evidence plans by EDF include identification of any potential environmental effects of the power station on the European protected sites, describe what evidence needs to be provided and set out an approach that will consider the effects Sizewell C will have in combination with other plans and projects.

Rob Cooke, director of sustainable development at Natural England, said: “By making it easier for developers to incorporate environmental protection into their designs, evidence plans such as this mean our important habitats are properly looked after while large-scale projects can proceed more smoothly.”

EDF said that the process of producing the evidence plan was a constructive one that would help in considering the environment in future.

Last week, Natural England published its improvement plan for planning and licensing. The Sizewell C evidence plan is just one of the ways Natural England is looking at to improve the process.