A Jean Herring blog on the community discussion at Aldeburgh Cinema on Sunday 8 December.

At Sunday's Community event held at Aldeburgh Cinema, it was good to see SASES, SOS and SEAS working together with members of the Norfolk Campaign groups.

There was a positive atmosphere in the Cinema, representatives from various Parish Councils, County and District Councillors all contributing to the Discussion.  Members of the public who wished to find out more gave helpful feedback.  They found the presentations by Liz Thomas, SASES, Paul Chandler, SOS, Fiona Gilmore, SEAS and Chris Monks, Cawston, Norfolk very informative.  Liz emphasised the importance of writing now to all the Councillors expressing concerns about the SPR plans.  Liz confirmed the invitation to attend the SASES workshop on Saturday 4 January to craft the written representations to PINS and SPR for both EA1N and EA2.  Paul highlighted the environmental threats showing photos taken in the Sandlings. Unique low heathland could be permanently destroyed all in the name of green energy.

A five minute film was shown for the first time.  It was a compact story showing locals expressing their concerns, from the point of view of local trades and businesses or from authority figure heads, including Ben McFarland, Chief Conservation Officer at Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Cllr David Woods from the local AONB expressing their specific issues with the current plans.

Andrew Fane, Chair of Suffolk Preservation Society masterfully chaired the meeting, and grilled Dr. Thérèse Coffey at the start of the meeting, on whether she would fight for a pause and a full Review, freezing the current DCO process in the event of a Conservative victory both nationally and locally.  A lot of “ifs” here, but Thérèse Coffey informed the meeting that “National Grid welcomes the review, it is Ofgem who regulates...”, the suggestion being that Ofgem need to get engaged and think about a national strategy in place of fragmentation and ecocide.  Thérèse Coffey repeated the need for a “holistic strategy”.  Do we trust these words?  George Freeman could not attend the meeting; we would have liked to applaud his hard work and vision for a national strategy.

Cllr Andrew Reid gave a lucid statement: “we have considerable objection to the proposals...”and” we have grave problems and concerns”...it was reassuring to local campaigners to hear these significant words.

Fiona Gilmore used a visual slide created by Ray Pearce in Norfolk outlining the potential offshore RingMain map, for East Anglia as a whole.  It shows how the onshore substations can be reduced dramatically down to two super substations on already industrialised sites and offshore there will be collector substations to bring all the generated energy together and balance the supply.  Linking these collector substations together would form the ORM and this would be part of a NETS (National Electricity Transmission System) and far less expensive.  The ORM would be a win-win for the Environment. The ORM would be paid for by a connection levy served on the wind farm developers who would pay to connect.  It could even be profitable for the ORM developer.  How exciting is this?!  Step change thinking Innovation.  Big picture.  Synergies.  What is there not to like?  Why on earth did successive Governments fail to embrace this strategy years ago?  It’s a no brainer.

Chris Monks had made the journey from Norfolk with fellow campaigner Brian Shuil to share useful tips.  “Make sure campaigners attend every PINS meeting.  Make sure you challenge their assumptions and the plans by detailed interrogation.”  Chris was the only campaigner at one meeting and he had 30 minutes of useful questions and answers which could have made all the difference to the outcome.  Chris told Suffolk campaigners after the formal meeting closed that the three plans for substations in Norfolk were Orsted, Vattenfall and Equinor, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian owned, respectively.  SPR is Spanish owned.  How do any of these foreign groups care about the devastation they are causing? They have no locus.

A constructive meeting, plus a goody bag with campaign materials.  Campaigners were given Christmas badges to wear.  The deer (or Rudolph) the hero is much loved on the Sandlings.  Save our deer!

Jean Herring

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