Darsham Parish Council
Response to Suffolk County Council request for suggested mitigation measures
for proposed Sizewell C infrastructure projects
Darsham Parish Council (Darsham PC) continues to oppose the proposed location of the Northern Park and Ride (NPR). We believe its location on an already busy single carriageway section of the A12 just north of the level crossing at Darsham Station, coupled with proposed roundabouts at Willow Marsh Lane and the A1120 junction in Yoxford are a recipe for traffic chaos extending northwards up the A12. We have no confidence in the traffic estimates submitted by EDF, which we believe underestimate the amount of local, through, agricultural and tourist traffic. This will be exacerbated by the proposed motel and further proposed development south of the station. We believe that traffic congestion on this main artery into Suffolk will adversely impact tourism throughout the AONB, which generates more than £360 million pa to the local economy (2018 figure). Further, we believe these volumes of traffic will generate excessive noise, vibration and pollution with serious negative impacts on those living alongside or close to the A12. Most significantly, Darsham PC has been advised that location of the NPR on this site could pose a significant flood risk to the railway (see below).
However, if the NPR is given planning permission, we offer the following suggested mitigation measures, which may help alleviate some of these impacts:
NPR: substrate, drainage and flood risk.
The site of the NPR slopes down from Willow Marsh Lane towards the railway. A consulting engineer has advised us that the heavy clay soil here could pose a drainage and flood risk problem when compacted during the construction period. An appropriate sustainable semi-permeable surface could be utilised for car parking spaces to reduce run-off, with suitable drainage and reservoir capacity at the southern end to protect the railway from flooding. We submitted this evidence to EDF during the consultation period, but it has been ignored.
Darsham is a dedicated dark sky village and every effort should be made to protect that status. Downlighting should be mandatory within the NPR. Darsham PC has concerns about Department of Transport lighting regulations in respect of the Roundabout at Willow Marsh Lane which could impact on our dark sky status.
NPR: pedestrian access from Darsham Station
Darsham PC is uncertain about the proposals for pedestrian access to the NPR from the Station. This requires careful consideration in regard to the safety of pedestrians. Currently there is a footpath up the western side of the A12 towards Willow Marsh Lane, but it is narrow, unlit and frightening to use. The footpath then switches to the eastern side at the junction with The Street. There is no safe crossing for pedestrians either here or at the garage or station (for access to the car park). Provision needs to be made for safe crossing at some of these points (see also below).
A12: Access, Speed and Safety concerns
Currently a 40-mph limit is in force on the A12 from just north of Willow Marsh Lane south through to the outskirts of Yoxford. A large proportion of current traffic disregards this limit, particularly southbound. This impacts local traffic turning right out of the Street (there have been at least three accidents there in the past four years) and it is increasingly difficult and dangerous for residents living on the section of A12 from there down to the level crossing to access the main road. Further up the A12 we anticipate that increased traffic levels will cause problems for vehicles on the A144 turning right onto the main road where the speed limit is currently 60mph. While the construction of a roundabout at Willow Marsh Lane will slow traffic down to a certain extent, Darsham PC suggests, that with the expected increase in traffic levels the 40mph limit should commence further up the A12, north of the A144 Halesworth junction, and the current 40mph limit through to Yoxford should be replaced with a 30mph limit. Both limits should be enforced by fixed speed cameras. As well as improving road safety, this would improve the chances of Darsham residents in the village and along the A12 safely accessing the main road.
The Street, Low Road and Fox Lane: Access, Speed and safety measures
The roads through our village vary from 1 – 2 car widths and, apart from a small section around the Village Hall, have no pavements. The village has grown by more than 40 % in the past five years and both local and through traffic has increased substantially. Large numbers of residents, a significant number are elderly, walk dogs around the village roads.
Darsham PC is extremely concerned, if the NPR is constructed, at the risk of rat-running and fly parking along and on village roads. While EDF have promised installation of an ANPR system to detect transgressing HGVs we are very concerned about increased access by cars and LGVs. This is a difficult area, as large agricultural vehicles and delivery / service / emergency vehicles need to access these roads.
The level crossing at Darsham Station has regular night closures for maintenance, and A12 traffic is diverted down The Street. No satisfactory solution has been proposed for NPR traffic during closures, other than stopping it completely. We are sure that there will be a strong temptation for vehicles to use the Street, and this may also apply when traffic builds up due to more frequent train closures, and longer trains.
A large majority of residents support the introduction of a statutory 20mph limit on the roads through and around the village, which would slow traffic and improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, dogs and horses, and reduce noise and pollution. A speed indicator was installed in March 2022 and data is available to support this case.
While we have concentrated on the impacts of Sizewell C construction on this Parish, other local Parishes and the wider AONB will see serious impacts on their environment and way of life. Darsham PC remains convinced that Sizewell C is the wrong project in the wrong place. After an 18-month Inquiry, the Planning Inspector agreed and recommended refusal of the planning application, only for the Secretary of State to immediately approve it. We are now relying on our locally elected County Council to consider mitigation measures to minimise these impacts on our treasured Suffolk environment and way of life.
Cllr Michael Simons
On Behalf of Darsham Parish Council
11th May 2023
Subject: Sizewell C site - Wetland Provision
Hello One & All,
At our last council meeting I was asked by a parishioner if I knew what all the earth moving was about taking place adjacent to where Sizewell C may be sited.
I put the question to EDF and was told that in accordance with the terms of the DCO prior to any site construction EDF had to put in place a new wet land for relevant species, this is what was being done at this time.
Please can this response be posted on council's website and village social media, thank you.