Andrew Fane, Chairman of Suffolk Preservation Society (SPS) and Supporter of SEAS comments in the SPS Autumn Magazine 'Suffolk View'. Andrew expresses his concern that unchecked planning and development risks a diminution of our countryside and the erosion of the essential qualities of Suffolk. Ill-conceived land-grabs across unique biodiverse countryside for onshore wind energy substations, over zealous investors in mass housing and rapacious chicken farming could be the tipping point for this county.
“One of the things that informed pressure groups like SPS must strive to do is engage with our politicians and seek to persuade them to lower the temperature on planning and on development. We are doing just that for Suffolk wherever we can.
We advise politicians that using many more consents than our builders can deliver in a limited timescale means wrong consents being issued in the wrong locations. We point out that Suffolk doesn’t have to be the conduit of choice for a wholly disproportionate percentage of national energy being channelled through some of our AONBS and delicate historic landscapes. We say that Suffolk doesn’t have to produce such a percentage of the national chicken supply that prime land is vanishing under industrial scale chicken sheds.
Frankly, we are saying spread the pain about a bit – send the green power by ring main direct to the Thames Estuary where it is wanted - that is established technology. Let planners only allocate housing according to demonstrable local needs, not as a magnet for second rate mass housing in the wrong locations. Let road builders accept a degree of overcrowding on our major roads to discourage needless journeys and then improve our rail infrastructure. And finally design everything better, be it house or substation, so that they are not an automatic blight…”
Looking at the existing regimes, questions have arisen regarding the suitability of the current regulatory regime for offshore wind. It is currently heavily concentrated on competitiveness, which is considered beneficial for consumers. That means that currently there is no sharing of infrastructure, and each wind farm has an individual connection to transmit the power that it generates. There are three material concerns with this: it is financially inefficient; it has a negative environmental impact; it may have a negative impact on coastal communities where connections make landfall.
Eight Offshore Wind Energy Projects are widely believed to be planned to connect to the National Grid at Friston (this does not include future windfarm projects as a result of the seabed leases awarded by the Crown Estate in relation to the Round 4 process). Cumulative impact means eight substations and interconnectors constructed sequentially or consecutively. Plus, the addition of a nuclear power station, one of the largest in the world. This will be the largest complex of energy infrastructure in the U.K. situated in one of the most fragile ecosystems in the U.K. These are judged to be ill-conceived plans where the process of choosing the site for the mega infrastructure hub is shown to be flawed. There are a number of better alternative brownfield sites for this designated vast complex.