Nautilus Interconnector

 

THE STORY SO FAR

The recently published proposals by National Grid Ventures (NGV) concerning Nautilus Interconnector (to connect up to 1.4 GW of offshore wind in the UK to Belgium) combined with the planning applications for ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) East Anglia One North (EA1N) and East Anglia Two (EA2) offshore wind projects reveal the hard evidence that Suffolk Coast and Heaths is in grave danger of mass industrialisation. The onshore devastation can be seen all too clearly on the map above which shows kilometres of additional cable corridors gouging through our protected landscapes and a further converter station looming 24 metres high and concreting over an additional 12 acres of greenbelt land. This could impact on additional  communities including Theberton, Kelsale, Leiston, Sternfield, Snape  and Saxmundham.  (To be clear, SEAS are not in favour of any of the onshore routing and converter siting options that have been presented by NGV.  If NGV is truly committed to protecting rural coastal communities then they must bring forward a grid connection on a brownfield site.)

National Grid Ventures has finally published an interim Consultation Summary following their engagement with the community and local authorities in the consultations of October 2021 Nautilus Interconnector, Non-Statutory Consultation Feedback Summary, June 2022

THE LARGEST COMPLEX OF ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE UK

The harsh reality is that this is just the beginning. There are currently eight offshore wind energy projects and interconnectors that are widely believed  to be planned to connect to the National Grid substation at Friston to form  an Energy Hub. With the addition of Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station,  this will be the largest complex of energy infrastructure in the UK. Effectively the industrialisation of Suffolk Coast and Heaths.

NEEDLESS DESTRUCTION

It is unclear why a currently unspoilt protected rural area, rich in wildlife  and with an important nature-based tourism economy (including  nearby Thorpeness and Aldeburgh) was chosen over a brownfield or industrialised site.

The destruction caused to the onshore environment, local tourist economy  and coastal communities is devastating. Each cable corridor will gouge  a motorway sized scar 9km inland, through the fragile cliffs north of  Thorpeness, across the Suffolk Coastal Path, the Suffolk Sandlings and the  Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to  arrive at the principal substation site, the medieval rural village of Friston.  This Energy Hub at Friston is being planned on a massive scale. The  substations planned for SPR’s projects alone are nearly 3 times the size of  Wembley Stadium.

HOLD BACK THE FLOOGATES

The foundation of this Energy Hub and the multiple cable corridors cutting through these protected landscapes are SPRs two offshore wind projects.

If we can’t stop Scottish Power’s EA1N and EA2’s application or obtain a ‘Split Decision’ it will open the flood gates, Nautilus being the first to follow on.

As you know doubt will be aware, as of March 31st 2022, these two projects have now been consented.  However, we have not given up.  SEAS has now issued an application for judicial review seeking that the decisions of the Secretary of State are quashed on the basis that they were taken unlawfully. This is likely to be decided by the courts later this year.

If the onshore works of EA1N/2 are reconsidered then plans for the onshore infrastructure for Nautilus will at least have to go back at the drawing board.

WRITE TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE

Ultimately, the decision as to whether to reconsider the Applications of EA1N and EA2, after judicial review, lies with the Secretary of State. It is therefore vital to make the government aware of our grave concerns.  Please help and write now.

Nautilus Timeline

2020 – 2021
– Initial desktop studies and informal engagement

2021 – 2023    
– Feasibility studies and consultation on siting and routing options

2021 – 2023  
– Community consultation and Preliminary Environmental Information

2023  
– DCO application submitted to the Planning Inspectorate
– DCO application examined by the Planning Inspectorate

2024/2025
– Decision on the DCO application provided by the Secretary of State

2025
– Final investment decision made
– Construction commences

2028
– Commercial operation begins

The Way Forward - A Split Decision

SEAS has called on the Examining Authorities to recommend to the Secretary of State a ‘split decision’ so that:

  1. The offshore turbines are recommended for consent.
  2. 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.
The Way Forward - Offshore Integration

The benefits of an integrated offshore transmission network far outweigh any benefit gained from continuing with a radial transmission system.

Key Documents

East Anglian MPs write to the Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change calling for an offshore grid. 20 May 2022

Crossed Wires:  Maintaining public support for offshore wind farms, Policy Exchange, July 2021

The Offshore Co-ordination Phase 1 Final Report, NGESO, 16 December 2020, NGESO:  “Adopting an integrated approach for all offshore projects to be delivered from 2025 has the potential to save consumers approximately £6 billion, or 18% in capital and operating expenditure between now and 2050”. Importantly, footnote 5 states, “This means applying an integrated approach to all offshore projects that have not yet received consent”.

Energy White Paper, Powering our Net Zero Future, December 2020

On 6 November 2020, in response to Mr Duncan Baker’s adjournment debate, the then Energy Minister, and now the newly appointed Secretary of State for the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Mr Kwarteng, made a very encouraging response and said, amongst other things:
- The offshore wind industry had evolved since 2015;
- There was a shift in the industry towards integration.
- Point to point transmission was recognised as having severe detrimental impacts onshore
- Technology was available to build an offshore integrated network
- Industry was engaged through the OTNR
- The argument for some form of offshore network has been won

In July 2020 the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy announced a major Review, the Offshore Transmission Network Review to address the barriers it presents to further significant development of offshore wind, with a view to achieving net zero.

The findings of the Integrated Offshore Transmission Project (East) 2015 Report concluded that an integrated offshore solution was in the interests of the UK as a whole.

It is illogical for further radial connections to the grid to be approved. The acutely detrimental impacts of radial connections must now be properly recognised in the Planning Balance.

What is a 'MOG'?  Is it the answer?, SEAS, June 2020

In the Press

UK
UK National Grid in talks to build an energy island in the North Sea, New Scientist, 11 October 2021
'Money can't compensate' for disruption caused by offshore wind, campaigners say, EADT July 2021
Prime Minister says coast could be the 'Riyadh of offshore wind' in PMQs, EasternDaily Press, 24 February 20021
U.K. Power Grid Moving Offshore to Support $27 Billion Wind Boom, Bloomberg, December 2020
Outdated regulation is slowing investment in onshore electricity grid, The Guardian, 1 November 2020
Offshore Wind in UK – Roadmap Required, Offshore  Wind, October 26 2020
Change the way offshore wind farms connect and save billions - report finds, Eastern Daily Press, September 20 2020
Offshore wind blows hole in case for National Grid electricity role, The Times, October 8 2020
Modular Offshore Grid (MOG) - Can these ideas stop the countryside being dug up? Eastern Daily Press, June 27 2020
Norfolk MPs lobby Kwasi Kwarteng, Energy Minister at BEIS, SASES, 11 June 2020
Greenpeace suggests taking a more 'strategic approach' to offshore wind grid infrastructure, including increasing the number of grid connections to land shared between several projects, ReNEWS.BIZ, June 4 2020
Offshore Ring Main (ORM) feasibility study announced after Norfolk MPs met with Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng to discuss their concerns, Eastern Daily Press, June 2 2020

NORTH SEA INTEGRATION

North Sea EU countries step up plans to harness wind power, Financial Times, 20 May 2022
Plans for Offshore Wind-to-Green Hydrogen Energy Islands in Germany and Denmark Offshorewind.biz, 20 May 2022
Denmark maps seas for future offshore wind farms and energy islands, Recharge, June 8 2020
Denmark confirms massive wind plans for 'world's first energy islands' in North Sea and Baltic , Recharge May 20 2020
Denmark eyes 10GW offshore wind 'islands' in $45bn plan, Recharge, December 2019
North Seas ministers seek rules for meshed offshore wind grid, Recharge, December 4 2019

The USA

Growing chorus’ endorses multi-user transmission system, Riviera May 2020
Multi-user US offshore grid could 'save $1bn' ReNEWS.Biz,  May 2020
Report Finds $1B in Grid Upgrade Savings, Other Benefits in Planned Transmission Approach to Offshore Wind, Yahoo Finance, May 2020

 

 

 

"SASES strongly supports offshore wind and has only taken this action due to the deep flaws in the onshore aspects of these projects and the associated decision making"  SASES

As of early evening on 31 March 2022, ScottishPower Renewables East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two offshore wind projects have been consented.

A difficult time for many and for those directly affected, hard to bear.

We have all challenged and opposed with reason, emotion and determination.  Sadly, our voices did not prevail.

"It is a total disaster for this area and by implication the rest of the UK ... We are suggesting we can find brownfield sites, clean them up and build the hubs there, not in this kind of pristine ancient farm land."

Onshore eyesores that come with offshore wind farms to be shrunk.

Plan to reduce unsightly infrastructure such as cables, substations and pylons in government push to get coastal communities onside.

Legal action threatened over wind farms

Communities in Suffolk are threatening legal action.  SEAS has sent a pre-action protocol letter to Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng urging a rethink before seeking permission to apply for a judicial review.

Campaigners 'devastated' after two large wind farms off Suffolk coast given consent.

"This is extremely bad news for the area ... We're thinking about taking this decision to a judicial review."  Fiona Gilmore SEAS

The decision would mean "the devastation of Friston and east Suffolk ... It will mean the loss of 100 acres of farmland at Friston to build the substation."  SASES

 

Concern over imminent decision on wind farms ...

... we are proud of having renewables at sea. We are very proud of it, but we believe that there are better solutions for the sub-stations, not just for habitats and the environment, but also for the local economy ..."  Fiona Gilmore, SEAS

"We are recommending brownfield sites ... and have requested a split decision ... to prevent the loss of land designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ..." Sarah Courage, Kelsale

"Wind energy can be gathered from three or four windfarms at offshore platforms and brought to brownfield hubs ..."  Fiona Gilmore, SEAS

Celebrities speak out against onshore energy hub

"Sir ... A split decision is suggested, to continue building wind turbines but to pivot to offshore integrated cabling to brownfield sites."

Dame Joanna Lumley and actor Ralph Fiennes have warned in a joint letter that two planned wind farms off the Suffolk coast could see an area of beautiful countryside "disappear under a sea of concrete".

 

The largest onshore energy hub in the UK is anything but green. Developers have chosen an outdated, cheap, easy location for their own benefit. There is a better way forward. Energy can be taken to a brownfield site, closer to London where it is needed.

Green Party, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors at  East Suffolk Council have said further work should be paused ...

"I understand this is a big challenge for Government and developers but our communities really do need to see some action now, after what has been a lot of talking, it is time to get a grip." 

"If this means calling a pause to further onshore activity until strategic co-ordination is in place, then so be it"  
East Anglian Daily Times, 10 February 2022

At last, a journalist Laura Hughes, has taken time to visit, interview and research in to the particular problems associated with substations and how power from different wind farms can now be integrated at sea and brought to land via a reduced number of cables with brownfield sites used for clustering substations and inter-connectors.
Suffolk residents and Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council rail against plans for Nautilus onshore energy project in East Suffolk, 12 January 2022

Interview with SEAS biodiversity expert Dr. Gill Horrocks  The podcast highlights the importance of balancing our need for renewable energy with the need to look after irreplaceable landscapes that bring a richness not just to wildlife but to human habitation and to our communities and to people's quality of life.

National Grid Ventures and Nautilus Interconnector between Suffolk and Belgium.

"Greener solution tabled to replace ‘destructive’ Suffolk energy plans", New Civil Engineer, 20 September 2021

"The onshore aspects of these projects must be rejected"  The Rt Hon Dr Therese Coffey MP

Campaigners call for 'split decision' over Suffolk windfarm projects, East Anglian Daily Times, 19 July 2021

Write to Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, calling for him to pronounce a 'split decision'.

The terrifying scale of ground investigation works at the substation site of Friston. A tiny foretaste of what is to come if we do not stop these plans.

Interviews with Sarah Bardwell, Andrew Heald, Jason Gathorne-Hardy, Maggi Hambling, George Pell, Jenny Hall, Tony Bone and others.

New Policy Exchange Report, touts East Coast of England as the best place for an integrated 'Pathfinder' project.

Our congratulations to the two newly elected Councillors for East Suffolk Council.  Notably both candidates support a ‘Split Decision’ as a way forward.

Campaign With Us

We are asking you to write, to the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, calling for him to reconsider a 'split decision' so that:

  1. The offshore turbines are recommended for consent.
  2. 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.

Email: secretary.state@beis.gov.uk

cc: Minister.Hands@beis.gov.uk
therese.coffey.mp@parliament.uk
michael.gove@communities.gov.uk
George.eustice.mp@parliament.uK
offshore.coordination@beis.gov.uk
offshore.coordination@ofgem.gov.uk
box.offshorecoord@nationalgridESO.com 
InfrastructurePlanning@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

bcc: info@suffolkenergyactionsolutions.co.uk

or

Send a Letter:‍ 1 Victoria St., London SW1H 0ET‍

A National Grid Converter Station under construction (Viking Interconnector).  Nautilus  converter station is planned to a height of up to 24 metres over a site of 12 acres.  Unnecessary destruction if it doesn’t go to a brownfield site.

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

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