PUBLISHED: Eastern Daily Press 02 November 2020 By: Thomas Chapman
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
The Secretary of State has granted a three month extension to the Examination.
During the recent development consent order hearings (DCO), the Suffolk Energy Action Solutions group (SEAS) brought to the attention of the inspectors the fact that Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) are using “gagging” clauses in their agreements with landowners involved in the planning process for their offshore wind farms, EA1N and EA2. These clauses offer financial incentives to individuals and groups to withdraw objections and/or desist from objecting to their plans. There can be no justification for making payments or imposing conditions which undermine a statutory planning inquiry conducted in accordance with public law principles.