Calls for major reform of offshore wind industry to protect coast and countryside

Calls for major reform of offshore wind industry to protect coast and countryside

PUBLISHED: Eastern Daily Press 02 November 2020 By: Thomas Chapman

Calls to protect Norfolk and Suffolk coastlines and countryside from being ripped up to accommodate offshore wind technology have been backed by MPs

A major reform of offshore energy legislation has been backed by Norfolk and Suffolk MPs. Picture: Archant

Campaigners have long proposed an integrated approach to offshore energy, averting the need for new connections to be created onshore for each wind farm.

In Norfolk, two vast cable trenches - each 60km long - are planned to facilitate a total of three wind farms.

Happisburgh residents at the beach where trenches for cables are set to be dug. Picture: Archant

One trench would be dug from Weybourne in the north to Swardeston, south of Norwich, for the Hornsea 3 wind farm, built by Danish energy company Orsted.

Two others wind farms, Vanguard and Boreas, would have a trench stretching from Happisburgh to Necton. They will be built by Swedish energy firm Vattenfall.

A major reform of offshore energy legislation has been backed by Norfolk and Suffolk MPs. Picture: Julian Claxton/CHPV

But a report published in September, the first of its kind, found the integrated method would save consumers £6bn and halve the amount of digging required across coastal communities.

National Grid ESO said changes would come too late for the aforementioned wind farms, with some of the necessary technology yet to be developed.

But now five Norfolk and Suffolk MPs have joined forces to back the report’s findings, citing the “detriment” to the East Anglian coastline and countryside.

Five Norfolk and Suffolk MPs including George Freeman have backed calls to reform offshore energy projects. Picture: Archant

Therese Coffey, for Suffolk Coastal, George Freeman, Mid Norfolk, Jerome Mayhew, Broadland, Duncan Baker, North Norfolk, and James Cartlidge, South Suffolk, issued a joint response to National Grid ESO’s consultation on the issue, arguing new rules must be introduced urgently.

Mr Freeman said: “The old approach of each wind farm installing massive cabling and a Wembley-sized converter station for each farm would ruin our precious Norfolk and Suffolk coastal landscapes.

Five Norfolk and Suffolk MPs including James Cartlidge have backed calls to reform offshore energy projects. Picture: Archant

“We need legislation now to provide a proper system for proper connection.”

Mr Cartlidge added that East Anglia’s role in driving forward renewable energy must be re-examined.

Five Norfolk and Suffolk MPs including Jerome Mayhew have backed calls to reform offshore energy projects. Picture: Danielle Booden

And Mr Mayhew argued that proposed alternatives should be applied to ongoing offshore schemes.

“The sooner the rules change, the better,” he added. “It is not just future projects that can be improved; this new approach should be applied to as many existing wind farm projects as possible.”

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