To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed).
Councillors B E Harker and Miss S White left the meeting during this item of business and did not return.
The Council considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance seeking endorsement of a recommended response to the Stage 1 Consultation relating to the proposed Bradwell B power station proposals set out in Appendix A to the report.
The report provided background information regarding the identification, by the Government, of Bradwell as one of eight sites considered suitable in principle for the siting of a new nuclear power station. Details of the work undertaken in respect of this and the stage 1 consultation were also provided, and it was noted that in light of the COVID-19 health emergency the consultation period had been extended. Members were advised that following the consultation stages a decision would be made by the developer (BRB) as to whether a Development Consent Order application to the planning inspectorate would be submitted.
The Council received detailed presentations from the Strategy, Policy and Communications Manager and the Bradwell B Planning Lead. The presentations highlighted the:
· Council’s adopted policy in respect of the development of a new nuclear power station at Bradwell-on-Sea;
· BRB’s consultation programme and Maldon District Council’s governance in relation to the stage 1 consultation;
· Stage 1 proposals for the power station both when operational and during the construction period.
Following the Officer presentations, Councillor A S Fluker presented the report and thanked Officers for the work they had undertaken in relation to this project. He proposed that an additional recommendation be added, that Members are regularly consulted with from the start of the Development Consent Order (DCO) Stage 2 Statutory consultation process, so that they were able to understand and see what was involved as part of the consultation. This was duly seconded.
A lengthy debate ensued during which a number of questions and comments were raised by Members. The following information was provided by Officers in response to some of these.
· The consultation lacked detail and further information was required on a wide range of topics, including the proposals for the management of nuclear waste;
· The proposal for Bradwell B was for a conventional power station and not one of the micro units currently being developed by Rolls Royce.
· In terms of the scale of the proposal the Council had to consider what was presented in the Stage 1 consultation. There was concern about the potential landscape impact across a wide area but ongoing discussions with BRB may provide some mititgation.
· BRB’s Statement of Community Consultation had set out how it would consult during the Stage 1 consultation. In light of the COVID-19 health emergency Officers outlined the changes that BRB had made to the consultation to support community involvement and the response rate to date. The Council had submitted a letter in April 2020 to BRB raising concerns about the loss of public exhibitions and highlighting the commitment within the Statement of Community Consultation.
· Technical appraisals would be undertaken to identify potential harm on traffic flows within the District.
· Whilst much of the proposed Associated Development infrastructure would be temporary the Council would work to ensure that any permanent infrastructure would be a positive legacy for the District.
· In response to a question regarding housing infrastructure and the proposed expansion of South Woodham Ferrers, Members were advised that Officers had been in discussion with Chelmsford City Council and Essex County Council Highways in relation to this and recognised there were also constraints that required addressing beyond Maldon District Council’s administrative area.
· It was acknowledged that there would be both positive and negative impacts on the District, but it was necessary to balance these impacts, including any proposed mitigation or compensation, before coming to a conclusion.
· The Council’s support of the proposed development is in principle only and there will be future opportunities for the Council to consider the details of the proposal later once baseline and impact assessments have been carried out.
· In response to concerns raised regarding the visual impact the proposal would have within the district, on recreational boating, ecology, heritage sites etc., Members were advised that Officers would have detailed discussions with BRB to cover all areas.
Councillor C Swain proposed an amendment to paragraph 3.5.5 of the report removing reference to ‘the Council’s in principle support for the development’ but was advised that as this was part of the Officers’ report it could not be amended.
In response, the Leader of the Council referred to the review of the Local Development Plan scheduled to take place in 2021 and suggested that these statements were reviewed as part of that process. He proposed that an additional recommendation be added to request that the Council’s position was reviewed when the Local Development Plan was reviewed. This was agreed.
In accordance with Procedure Rule 13(3) Councillor C Morris requested a recorded vote. The Chairman then put to the vote the proposal in the name of Councillor Fluker to agree the recommendations as set out in the report and the two additional recommendations proposed. The voting was as follows:
For the recommendation:
Councillors E L Bamford, Miss A M Beale, R P F Dewick, M F L Durham, Mrs J L Fleming, A S Fluker, M S Heard, M W Helm, A L Hull, K W Jarvis, J V Keyes, C P Morley, R H Siddall and Mrs M E Thompson.
Against the recommendation:
Councillors M G Bassenger, V J Bell, M R Edwards, K M H Lagan, C Mayes, C Morris, S P Nunn, N G F Shaughnessy, N J Skeens, W Stamp, J Stilts and C Swain.
Councillor R G Boyce.
(i) That the Council endorses the Officer recommended response to the Stage 1 Consultation, as set in Appendix A to the report, as the Council’s response to the consultation;
(ii) That the Council endorses that the consultation response be a joint response with Essex County Council;
(iii) That Members are regularly consulted with from the start of the Development Consent Order Stage 2 Statutory Consultation process;
(iv) That the Council reviews the Council’s position when the Local Development Plan is reviewed.
Councillor Mrs P A Channer returned to the meeting at this point.