23 Norfolk Parishes write to Andrea Leadsom calling for an offshore Ring Main


Photo: Offshore Ring Main campaign group protesting at Ivy Tod Farm  -  Courtesy of Archant

Suffolk is not alone in objecting to the onslaught of cables, trenches and substations invading the countryside.

SEAS Campaign is pleased to be able to publish the official letter to Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for BEIS, from Alison Shaw, member of Oulton Parish Council, Norfolk, who has coordinated the objection from 23 Norfolk Parishes.  We can learn a great deal from the contents of this letter, the reply via the Planning Inspectorate and the subsequent notification to the Norfolk Parishes.  We can take heart that the focus of Alison’s letter is on positive and realistic alternative offshore solutions.  Alison, along with the campaign group ORM, are looking at practical ways for the participating energy companies to share a common connector at sea.  We salute the efforts of our fellow protesters in Norfolk and we hope to emulate their tremendous efforts. 

Alison comments that whether or not the receipt of this letter by the Secretary of State had any bearing on her decision to delay for 6 months…   “we will probably never know.  But we are glad of the reprieve, as it buys us time to continue the struggle to make our case for alternative grid connection arrangements - offshore.  We would envisage the government and National Grid coming together to co-finance an offshore ring main around the whole of the East Anglian coast (say,Walpole nr. King's Lynn to Bramford nr. Ipswich?) and then charging a connection fee to each developer as they wished to be connected to it  - a fee which would be advantageous to developers as it would be significantly less than the massive cost, and hassle,and time, and PR disaster involved in digging up Norfolk and Suffolk again and again and again.

George Freeman MP and Norman Lamb MP both absolutely understand all this, and are still pushing for a direct meeting with Andrea Leadsom to discuss all this.  We may or may not be part of such a meeting.”

115 Kilometres of cable trenches criss-cross North Norfolk


From: Shaw and Pearce

Subject: Re: EN010080: Hornsea Project Three Offshore Wind Farm 

Date: 25 September 2019 at 1:58:23 BST

To: andrea.leadsom.mp@parliament.uk, enquiries@beis.gov.uk

Cc: "FREEMAN, George"<george.freeman.mp@parliament.uk>, norman.lamb.mp@parliament.uk, therese.coffey.mp@parliament.uk,"SIMPSON, Keith" <keith.simpson.mp@parliament.uk> 

Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP

Secretary of State

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Dear Mrs Leadsom,

Re: The granting of a Development Consent Order for the offshore wind farm Hornsea Project Three

 The above proposal awaits your decision on October 2nd.

Notwithstanding that this is the eleventh hour,  I write to you today on behalf of 23 Parish Councils in Norfolk, to express directly our deep concerns about the onshore arrangements in this proposal and to urge you to consider using your discretionary powers to delay making a decision at this moment, to allow time for proper consideration of 2 important factors:

1)  the urgent need now for strategic central planning of the grid connection arrangements for this and all other wind farms in the North Sea; and

2)  the need to provide time for proper consideration of the Energy Emergencies Executive Committee’s (E3C's)report on the recent national power outage on August 9th.

We fully understand the need for the national transition to renewable energy, and the important part played by offshore wind in that mix. However, the proposed grid connection arrangements,requiring many miles of wide cable trenches onshore and the construction of huge substations inland, would result in the - entirely unnecessary -devastation of Norfolk’s environment and communities over a period of many years.

A brief statement of our position on the alternatives to the current onshore arrangements is attached below, for your consideration. It is important to note that, in a letter to Norman Lamb MP, dated July 31st this year, National Grid stated:  “One possible solution which we are exploring to minimise the onshore impact of our infrastructure is for several offshore wind farms to be connected offshore via a ring main." 

Meanwhile, the E3C’s report will be looking in detail into the implications of the fact that (whether or not any‘blame’ should be attached to Orsted’s management of their Hornsea One windfarm during that incident) it appears clear from National Grid’s own Interim Report at the time that the use of wind power on this scale within the grid has significant capacity to de-stabilise the grid, as it creates a low-inertia situation within the system, making it highly sensitive to tripping out. The National Grid is struggling to keep up with the sheer pace of change within its own system and the engineering challenges that these changes represent.

We appreciate that we are taking an unorthodox step in approaching you directly at this late stage but, given the extraordinary times we live in, we are acutely aware of the demands on your time.

Our request is simply that consideration be given to creating a little more time for the strategic planning of this important national transition.

We thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Yours sincerely,

 Alison Shaw

pp Oulton Parish Council and representing 22 other Parish Councils in Norfolk


ATTACHMENT to originating letter

Statement for the Secretary of State at the Department for Business,Energy and Industrial Strategy  regarding offshore wind

from 23 Parish Councils in Norfolk

We fully understand that there is a global emergency that requires a national transition in the UK away from fossil-fuelled energy.

Offshore wind is an important part of that transition.

The scale of the transition is unprecedented.

The current system of allocating onshore national grid connections ad hoc and piecemeal is no longer appropriate, and will lead to the unnecessary devastation of the very onshore environments we are trying to protect.

The PINS public examination processes of both the Orsted (Hornsea Three) and Vattenfall (Norfolk Vanguard) projects in Norfolk have proved this clearly: the two grid connection points allocated are many miles inland, requiring the construction of 115 kilometres of cable trenches, one North-South, the other West-East, and huge inland substations, resulting in massive disruption to the villages, agriculture, businesses and tourism of the whole of North Norfolk over a period of many years.

It is well known that there are between 8 and 10 further large-scale wind projects currently gearing up to enter the planning system, with similar requirements.

There is now a widespread and growing movement throughout Norfolk and Suffolk that is calling urgently for the consideration of alternative grid connection arrangements offshore  - probably via the installation of an Offshore Ring Main.

We represent 23 Parish Councils and several action groups and farmers in Norfolk,who have all signed up for an ORM as a much better – and much ‘greener’ alternative method of delivering these projects successfully. MPs representing many of the constituencies affected agree that this is a much more rational approach, and a group of them were about to meet with Claire Perry (the previous Minister For Energy and Clean Growth) on May 20th this year, when the meeting had to be cancelled.

We are urging you today to consider putting on hold the 2 current offshore wind farm proposals in Norfolk, to allow time for the consideration of the construction of an Offshore Ring Main for these  - and the many future - projects.


 Background information:

-       Both developers – Orsted and Vattenfall – are not averse to the idea of an ORM  - they simply tell us that they have no power themselves to make such coordinated infrastructure happen. 

-       They have missed this year’s CfD energy auctions, and will have to wait in any case until 2021 to enter the next round. 

-        Given the scale of the current national transition, it would not be inappropriate to call a brief halt to the planning process for these windfarms, to allow time for coordinated national planning.



From: Planning Inspectorate <noreply@infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk>

Subject: Updates for Hornsea Project Three Offshore Wind Farm

Date: 27 September 2019 at 11:45:04 BST

To: Shaw and Pearce

EN010080: Hornsea Project Three Offshore WindFarm Updates

Hi Alison Shaw,

The Secretary of state has invited Interested Parties to comment on the North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef Special Area of Conservation, The Wash and North Norfolk Coast Special Area of Conservation, Ornithology, Marine Conservation Zones and Southern North Sea Site of Community Importance Site Integrity Plan. The deadline for responses is 31 December 2019. In view of this please note that the decision deadline for Hornsea Project Three Offshore WindFarm has been postponed until 31 March 2020.

See project page for more information.

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EXTRACT from BEIS Notification letter

To: Orsted Hornsea Project Three (UK) Limited Date: 27September 2019 cc: All interested parties

12. In order to allow time for the steps above to be taken, the Secretary of State is setting a new deadline for a decision on this Application of 31 March 2020. A statement to the House of Commons and House of Lords in accordance with section 107(7) of the Planning Act 2008 will be made as soon as possible once Parliament is in session.

Read full letter here



[Sent on Oct. 2nd to all members of the signatory list of the March letter to Norfolk’s MPs re: the Offshore Ring Main- this list includes 23 of Norfolk’s Parish Councils]

Dear All,

Today was the official date for the Secretary of State to publish her decision on the Hornsea Project Three Offshore Wind Farm.

As you know, we decided last Wednesday(25th) on the unorthodox step of sending an email direct to the new Secretary of State, drawing her attention to the most salient issues related to Orsted’s Hornsea Project Three, and urging her to delay making a decision in the current circumstances. [See email.]

Last Friday -  the 27th - all Interested Parties received notification (see email) that the Secretary of State has decided to delay making a final decision on Hornsea Three for a period of 6 months  -  until 31st March 2020. 

The reason given for this delay is the request for further evidence from the Applicant on how they can mitigate the severe adverse impacts on 3 endangered species of seabirds. However, this delay will allow time for George Freeman MP, and other Norfolk MPs on-board with the Offshore Ring Main idea, to arrange for the re-instatement of a direct meeting with the new Secretary of State, to discuss the possibility of a radical re-think of the onshore arrangements for this project. It may also allow time for the setting up of a long overdue meeting between National Grid and government to discuss the coordinated central planning of this whole transition.

While it is still entirely possible that this project will be given the go-ahead in March next year, this delay allows us a small reprieve, in which we shall continue to strive for coordinated central planning of these huge infrastructure projects.The decision on the second project -  Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard - is due on December 10th.

The decision on the second project -  Vattenfall’s Norfolk Vanguard - is due on December 10th.

The public examination process for Vattenfall’s phase two - Norfolk Boreas -will begin very soon.

With best wishes,


pp Oulton Parish Council



Meanwhile, on the very day of writing to SEAS on 11th October, Alison received information on the following further developments:

“(1) a notification from PINS of a Scoping Request from ‘Equinor’ regarding the need for 60 more kilometres of inland cable corridor through Norfolk to connect at Norwich Main, for an extension of the Dudgeon and Sheringham Shoals wind farms that was recently granted by Crown Estates and 

(2) notification of the beginning of the PINS Examination process for phase 2 of Vattenfall  - Norfolk Boreas.

All of which serves only to prove our point that, until this transition is properly planned by central government, the onshore devastation it causes will go on and on and on…”


https://www.facebook.com/groups/NectonsubstationAction/ (For Necton and all Vattenfallaffected villages between here and Happisburgh) – this is a private group so need to contact nectonsubstationaction@outlook.com for invitation to join)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/154155941795483/ – For all people affected by Vattenfall (and other) landfalls at Happisburgh – open group

https://www.facebook.com/N2RSgroup/ – helpful for all people affected by possible relay stations if their village is threatened by any offshore windfarms.

https://friendsofnorthnorfolk.org/ Friends of North Norfolk.

http://www.cprenorfolk.org.uk/ - CPRE Norfolk (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England)  

Photo: Offshore Ring Main campaign group protesting at Ivy Tod Farm  -  Courtesy of Archant

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