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As of early evening on 31 March 2022, ScottishPower Renewables East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two offshore wind projects have been consented.  For those who would like to read more the Decision and the Examining Authority’s Report are linked here.

SEAS is challenging this decision and has written an application for judicial review seeking that the decisions of the Secretary of State are quashed on the basis that they were taken unlawfully.

The judicial review has in effect given us time. Time to work on all sides of our campaign but most importantly time to work with our local MPs and decision makers to challenge the government to find brownfield sites for wind energy substations.

Please continue to write to the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, calling upon him to:

  1. Take a more strategic approach to the location of all onshore infrastructure for offshore wind so that onshore energy hubs are built on brownfield sites and our unspoilt and protected landscapes are saved.
  2. To reconsider his decision on East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two and recommend a ‘split decision’ so that:
      • The offshore turbines are recommended for consent.
      • The onshore infrastructure is rejected in favour of full consideration of better locations for this infrastructure where the adverse impacts are minimised at a brownfield or industrialised site.

It is still vital to make the government aware of our grave concerns.

Below is a template letter, please feel free to use it as you wish or even more powerful, send in your own words.

Thank you.

To:
secretary.state@beis.gov.uk (The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS))

Cc:
Minister.Hands@beis.gov.uk (Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP)
George.eustice.mp@parliament.uk (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Rt Hon George Eustice MP)therese.coffey.mp@parliament.uk (Suffolk Coastal MP, ​​The Rt Hon Dr Thérèse Coffey MP)
michael.gove@communities.gov.uk (The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP)
offshore.coordination@beis.gov.uk (BEIS)
offshore.coordination@ofgem.gov.uk (OFGEM)
box.offshorecoord@nationalgridESO.com (National Grid ESO)
InfrastructurePlanning@communities.gov.uk (NSIP Reform)
Richard.Rout@suffolk.gov.uk (Suffolk County Councillor, Richard Rout)
craig.rivett@eastsuffolk.gov.uk (East Suffolk District Councillor, Craig Rivett)
Russ.Rainger@eastsuffolk.gov.uk (District Councillor, Russ Rainger)
Tom.Daly@eastsuffolk.gov.uk (District Councillor Tom Daly)
andrew.reid@suffolk.gov.uk (County Councillor, Andrew Reid)

Bcc: info@suffolkenergyactionsolutions.co.uk (SEAS)


Dear Secretary of State

Your recent decision to grant consent for East Anglia One North (EA1N) and East Anglia Two (EA2) wind farms is a devastating judgement for East Anglia.

I have long been a supporter of offshore wind but the significant harm (that was clearly recognised by the Examining Inspectorate), caused by the onshore aspects of these projects to Suffolk’s precious landscapes, local tourist economy and coastal communities is utterly unacceptable.  Unacceptable because it is needless.

Had you decided on a ‘split decision’, permanent damage could have been averted.  It would have enabled ScottishPower to continue with the offshore elements of these projects whilst giving time for your department to strategise a less destructive solution for connecting not only these projects but future projects coming in their wake to the onshore grid.

There are better alternatives:

Prioritise brownfield sites for onshore substations  Onshore substations need to do less harm to our precious countryside.  Priorities should be brownfield sites, industrialised sites or sites in need of redevelopment.   These sites should be close to centres of demand so as to minimise onshore infrastructure.  The Rt Hon Therese Coffey MP and Sir Bernard Jenkin have suggested Bradwell.  Others have suggested Grain.  

Maximise subsea cable technology  The success of National Grid’s and Scottish Power’s Western Link, (an undersea electrical link between Western Scotland and North Wales with a transmission capacity of 2,250 MW) shows that large volumes of electricity can be efficiently transmitted long distances beneath the seabed.   This tried and tested technology could therefore take power from EA1N, EA2, North Falls and Five Estuaries wind farms plus Nautilus and Eurolink Interconnectors, via subsea cable, to an industrialised site, directly to where it is needed further south. As James Cartlidge MP said: “For strategic and economic reasons, and for the crucial need to protect our countryside, I believe that we should maximise the use of offshore cabling …“.   

Offshore Integration   Despite countless government reports advocating the environmental and economic benefits of offshore integration, EA1N and EA2, prime candidates for integration, were consented without any offshore integration.  Your department’s Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR) was warmly welcomed back in the summer of 2020.   It is now clear, nearly two years later, that its voluntary opt-in clause has rendered it essentially useless in this case.  It must be made mandatory for ALL East Anglian projects to be integrated offshore.

A Strategic Approach for East Anglia NOW  OffSET (Offshore Electricity Grid Task Force) MPs and East Anglian community groups are calling for a strategic approach to offshore and onshore grid planning in the East of England.  Strategic change will not come about just by leaving it to the market.  Private developers will inevitably choose the cheapest path.  

It requires you, as Secretary of State, to intervene NOW to instruct Developers, National Grid and OFGEM to: 

  1. Select brownfield sites for onshore substations
  2. Maximise the use of subsea cables and minimise onshore cables
  3. Connect offshore wind projects to the network closer to centres of demand
  4. Integrate projects offshore
  5. Take a strategic approach to grid planning in and off the coast of East Anglia
  6. To reconsider a ‘split-decision’ for EA1N and EA2, so that:

(i) The offshore turbines are recommended for consent.
(ii) The onshore infrastructure is rejected in favour of full consideration of better locations for this infrastructure where the adverse impacts are minimised at a brownfield or industrialised site.

There is a ground swell of discontent.  MPs, Councillors and thousands of members of the public are up in arms as more and more needlessly destructive, uncoordinated energy plans are revealed.

I too am deeply concerned and, as things stand, feel that I have no other recourse for action other than to support the campaign group, Suffolk Energy Action Solutions (SEAS) in their difficult decision to apply for a judicial review at the High Court.  

Yours …

Paul Chandlers writes to National Grid following Sea Link Interconnector Webinar, April 2022

Sent: 14 April 2022 18:28
To: Contact Sealink <contact@sealink.nationalgrid.com>
Subject: General observations following Suffolk webinar

I attended the Suffolk webinar this week and whilst I understand the underlying issues behind the need for a Suffolk to Kent interconnector, I would offer the observation that this need was known before the DCO examination for SPR’s EA1N and EA2 projects, yet NGET/NGESO kept very quiet about the true intention behind the substation at Friston. In fact attempts to get any NG involvement in the DCO process proved almost impossible. Local campaigners realised at a very early stage that the Friston substation was to be a hub and that many other connections would be made. Now that the Secretary of State has announced his decision are true details being revealed to Joe Public

Studying NOA and CION documents it was clear that the 2 interconnectors, plus the plethora of offshore windfarms would be connecting somewhere along the East Coast and the Sizewell area was the closest and most obvious place to start. I can appreciate the moving of the goalposts by the Government in respect of the 2030 renewable target of 30 GW increasing to 40GW and now potentially 50GW has thrown plans your into disarray, but this shift to renewables is not an overnight event. The prospect of multiple offshore windfarms and European Interconnectors has been ‘in the wind’ for many years.

What local communities and campaigners find most depressing is the complete disregard for the local environment, pushing ahead and supporting a plan to force a huge carbuncle upon the medieval village of Friston, developing an open green space of agricultural land into a vast industrial complex completely out of place with its surroundings. Friston will be blighted forever. This would not be such a bitter pill to swallow if there weren’t alternative sites or technology available.

Bradwell in Essex is a brownfield site that could easily accommodate all the infrastructure needed for the connection of renewables and interconnectors. The overhead lines would possibly need to be uprated to achieve this but as was stated in the webinar, an upgrade to the transmission system is a consideration anyway. Located on the river Blackwater, convenient for sea access.

There are also offshore substation hubs to be considered. Whilst SPR consistently maintained this technology was insufficiently advanced or even in existence to be considered, other Scandinavian countries are progressing in this direction. What do they know you don’t?

In light of the silence from National Grid and the obvious mis-information and deniability of other projects revealed during the EA1N and EA2 enquiry, a proper fair analysis of the cumulative impact these will have on communities in Suffolk was not possible. The inevitable damage to the hospitality industry, THE major employer in the area, and as a result incomes of those employed in the industry; the harm to the environment and wild life; and the misery and suffering of local communities caused by all these NSIPs, trying to sell the benefits of Sealink will be an uphill struggle. There is considerable local opposition to all these projects and the prospect of yet another round of DCO examinations fills many with dread.

Save Our Sandlings was formed to protect an area of East Suffolk known as the the Suffolk Sandlings, an area of sandy lowland heathland. Lowland heath is a rare and threatened habitat internationally and the UK has 20% of the global total. Two important regions of lowland heathland are found in Suffolk: Breckland on the Norfolk/Suffolk border and the Sandlings along the coastal belt. Only 8% of the original 1,600ha remain in 42 fragments under 2ha. (source: Suffolkbis.org)

The key National Biodiversity Action Plan species using the heathlands in Suffolk include Stone Curlew, Nightjar, Woodlark, Skylark, Linnet, Natterjack Toad, Silver-Studded Blue butterfly, Red-Tipped Cudweed, Tower Mustard, Perennial Knawel and Small Alison. In addition two Suffolk Character species, adder and antlion, now have individual Local Action Plans.

In addition, the Sandlings Way, and ancient long-distance path from Ipswich in the South to Lowestoft in the North follows the coast line from Bawdsey to Dunwich passing through Thorpeness and Sizewell. These latter locations are the landfall points for offshore cables.

The Coastal area of Suffolk comprises the Suffolk Coast & Heath Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Environmentally Sensitive Areas and Specially Protected Areas. The area is a continual draw for visitors throughout the year, and is extremely important to the local economy. As can be observed from the convoluted path for the EA1N and EA2 cable corridor, avoiding the AONB, SSSis, ESA and SPA has proven far from straightforward. As we understand it, cable runs require a degree of separation, and there are a number of pinch points along the route chosen by SPR, making additional cable runs extremely challenging. There is also the lack of acceptable real estate to land cables in the Thorpeness area. The Thorpeness cliffs comprise Coraline Crag which is immensely unstable when disturbed, there have numerous cliffs falls, one of which proved fatal. The cliffs are also home to a colony of Sand Martins.

We have serious concerns for the future of the Sandlings from development and the prospect of any number of cable corridors running through the area, there will be at least 5 projects worth as known at present. How these cables will route through to Friston without disturbing environmentally sensitive areas is unclear; we are concerned this will not be possible.

Given all the above, establishing offshore hubs make eminent sense. It will also be a much easier sell to coastal communities and business. It is highly likely a judicial review of the SoS BEIS DCO decision will be requested in light of a number of discrepancies during the examination and emergence of further information. Accepting that offshore structures present a possible visual intrusion on the seascape, this disbenefit is vastly outweighed by the benefits to the environment and visual landscape at Friston. Surely a win-win for National Grid.

Save Our Sandlings works closely with Substation Action, Save East Suffolk (SASES) and Suffolk Energy Action Solutions (SEAS) and welcome the opportunity to work with you in your Community Engagement activities. Our aims are to protect our precious environment and way of life for future generations. Once land is lost under concrete and steel, there is no going back. We are not anti-renewables or NIMBYs; we consider these are the RIGHT projects in the WRONG place. Most especially when there are acceptable alternatives.

Kind regards

Paul Chandler
Save Our Sandlings

Louise Fincham, Letter to the Secretary of State, March 2022

Date: Wed, Mar 9, 2022, 13:27
Subject: Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) EA1N and EA2
To: <secretary.state@beis.gov.uk>
Cc: <michael.gove@communities.gov.uk>, <richard.rout@suffolk.gov.uk>, <craig.rivett@eastsuffolk.gov.uk>, <russ.rainger@eastsuffolk.gov.uk>, <Tom.Daly@eastsuffolk.gov.uk>, <andrew.reid@suffolk.gov.uk>, <minster.hands@beis.gov.uk>, <therese.coffey.mp@parliament.uk>

 

Dear Secretary of State,

You are about to deliver your decision on SPR’s EA1N and EA2 offshore windfarm plans. Of course our attention is focused on the current desperate situation in Ukraine. Not only are we concerned for the poor citizens of Ukraine and surrounding countries but also for the implications for our own country. In assessing SPR/National Grid plans there is no doubt a temptation to say that we must crash ahead in a rush to become more self sufficient in energy production; but a bad plan is still a bad plan and you know that this is a bad plan. Decisions will be bogged down by legal challenges and protracted planning hearings because there is so much powerful objection locally and increasingly nationally as well. A decision in favour of SPR/National Grid in this case will in fact risk delaying projects, not speeding them up.

What has changed in the last few weeks is that we have all come to realise that as well as the need to be more self sufficient in the way we produce energy, we also need to protect our food production. Ukraine was a valuable source of grain and crops, the breadbasket of Europe, but we cannot expect to be able to import grain from Ukraine any time soon. Here in East Suffolk we have some of the most productive and valuable arable land in the country, and this is the land that SPR/National Grid want to pour concrete onto. Hundreds of acres of crop growing land will be needlessly taken out of production by these schemes and the others that would undoubtedly be bolted on to them. We know that National Grid has a “plan B” and has other sites in mind should consent not be given to these plans. They admitted they would rather work on greenfield sites because it is cheaper for them to do so. This is unacceptable, we need energy but we also need food, we can have both. You simply need to consent the offshore element of these plans and then tell National Grid to use a brownfield site to build their infrastructure and make their grid connection to London and the South East where the energy is needed, please leave East Suffolk to do what it does best, producing high quality food and supporting a thriving tourist economy for the benefit of all of us.

Louise Fincham

SEAS Protest, 25 February 2022

SEAS supporters lined the roads protesting at the Snape Church junction on the A1094.

Cars passing hooted and cheered in solidarity.

SUFFOLK MP, CONTINUES TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST HUGE SUBSTATIONS AT FRISTON

“In short, in order for the Applicant’s proposals to adhere to the emerging government policy of greater offshore coordination to protect our environment – which has been backed again at the highest level in Parliament this month. Then the onshore aspects of these projects must be rejected in favour of a grid connection which offers the capacity to integrate multiple projects without having a devastating impact on local communities and our precious landscpaes.”  Therese Coffey MP’s verbal submission to the Planning Inspectorate

Janice Turner - Wasteful windpower firms will feel the force

Published: The Times, 29 October 2020

On a clear day in Aldeburgh, the wind turbines twirl on the pale horizon. On a clear night, their red lights wink. Hundreds of them, and I’m thrilled the Suffolk coast’s raucous energy is being tapped for the public good.

But what I’m viewing is a gold rush. Out at sea, around 50 companies have planted their windmills. Now these prospectors are desperate to get their product to market by disgorging wind power on to the national grid. You’d assume green firms would strive to do this in the greenest possible way. Alas, their only care is the bottom line.

Nations with proper infrastructure planning, such as Germany and Denmark, ensure that wind companies bring their energy ashore at a single point, usually in a brownfield site. But our National Grid is privatised, with shareholders to please. So instead of one hub, each competing energy company plans its own massive substation in unspoiled countryside. A cable trench as wide as a motorway will be drilled under fragile cliffs, disrupting bird sanctuaries, throwing farmland into a decade of excavation

Such stupid vandalism. How can clean energy be so dirty? Especially when there’s a brownfield site available at the disused Bradwell power station.

That would cost energy companies more in cabling, but what they haven’t factored in is that campaigners will stall them for years. Suffolk has a tireless army of retired barristers, engineers, civil servants, artists and spies who care about every pebble on the beach. As the energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng considers this scheme, he might also remember that the East Anglian coast is one long Tory shire

JULIET BLAXLAND AUTHOR OF SUFFOLK COASTAL EROSION MEMOIR "THE EASTERNMOST HOUSE" WRITES TO The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP

Dear Secretary of State,

I support offshore wind farms in principle, but this email is my formal objection to the siting of the proposed wind farm infrastructure as it comes ashore, particularly the trench crossing land at Ness House and the Warden’s Trust at Sizewell, and the associated large development at Friston, for the following reasons:

1) It would interfere with the natural water supply embedded in the chalk at a depth of about 10m across the site and across Suffolk,
2) Rapid coastal erosion along this part of the coast makes this site economically unreliable compared with more stable sites to the south,
3) ‘Brownfield first’ has long been the mantra of all ecologically responsible development, and all the more pertinently ‘eco’ development,
4) There would be an avoidably devastating effect on nature, wildlife and beauty at an unnecessarily sensitive part of the the coast.

Better alternatives can be found. Submissions by others have been made in detail by others to expand on the above reasons for the infrastructure to be much better positioned on an existing industrial/brownfield site further south, eg Bradwell, to which I add:

5) The current architecture of infrastructure in general could be greatly improved.

In an increasing climate crisis and during a viral pandemic, both examples of the power of nature at large, this development represents a chance to publicly declare a serious intent, from both government and industry, to take nature seriously for future generations. It would an act of ecocide to site the proposed infrastructure in a fragile coastal stretch acknowledged as being of national importance for nature and wildlife.

Wherever the wind farm infrastructure is sited, the architecture itself should be of prime concern, both aesthetically for the local people, and for wildlife. Architecture can mitigate some of the destructive influences of human development, eg see the Adnams distribution warehouse at Reydon near Southwold, which was the greenest warehouse in Europe at the time of its construction and is barely visible in the landscape.

I would be happy to expand on any of the above, but I appreciate the density of communication on this subject, so have kept it simple here. Please feel free to quote anything I have said above, with or without my name attached.

Yours sincerely,

Juliet Blaxland

Architect and author of Suffolk coastal erosion memoir The Easternmost House.
Permanent resident of Covehithe/Benacre estate, and formerly long-term resident of Easton Bavents until the house was demolished due to coastal erosion.

@JulietBlaxland (Twitter)

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Our modern landscape fragmented by houses, roads, farming and industrialisation, is an increasingly difficult place for hedgehogs to navigate safely.

Yes to Offshore Wind Energy, Let's Do it Right

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