Campaigners unite in calling for a pause before 'onslaught' of energy projects 'devastates' region

EADT article: Campaigners unite in calling for a pause before 'onslaught' of energy projects 'devastates' region, by Andrew Hirst. PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:58 09 December 2019

Campaigners and politicians have called on the Government to pause the expansion of the energy industry in Suffolk, which they fear will turn the countryside into an "industrial wasteland" and hit tourism.

Groups from Suffolk and Norfolk met in Aldeburgh on Sunday when they agreed a unified stance against the "onslaught" of projects facing the region.

The groups said they supported renewable energy but warned the lack of "joined up thinking" from Government and energy companies was threatening the landscape, with large substations and cable routes.

They urged people to write to the Planning Inspectorate and Secretary of State for BEIS before decisions are made on two massive projects - ScottishPower Renewables'(SPR) East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two wind farms and EDF Energy's Sizewell C.

Meeting chairman, Andrew Fane of Suffolk Preservation Society, urged that the Government put a "pause" on all projects until a review of energy policies was undertaken.

A substation has already been built at Bramford - and another could be required at Friston Picture: SPR
A substation has already been built at Bramford - and another could be required at Friston Picture: SPR

Liz Thomas of Substation Action Save East Suffolk (SASES) warned that the region was at a "critical stage" and could face "unparalleled devastation". Ms Thomas has already written to the Secretary of State warning that the energy proposals threaten "beautiful east Suffolk" with a "terrible legacy". She added the projects would "irrevocably change the region into an industrial waste-land".

Representatives from around 30 town and parish councils have also co-signed a letter to the Secretary of State, highlighting their concerns about the impact of the energy projects.

Several politicians have also written, urging a review into energy strategy before decisions are taken on the two projects.

Views on how the energy strategy should be developed vary - but there is broad consensus that current transmission methods are too disruptive.

Much of the concern has focused on SPR's East Anglia Array projects. The first parts of the array, East Anglia One and East Anglia Thee - which together are expected to meet the needs of 1.5m homes - connect to the grid at a substation in Bramford, north of Ipswich, via a 22-mile cable route from the coast at Bawdsey.

The second phase - East Anglia Two and East Anglia One North - could require a new connection at Thorpeness and a six-mile cable trench through the Suffolk Coast and Heath AONB to a 30-acre substation site in Friston.

The proposals have been fiercely opposed by local residents, campaign groups and councils, who say it would "destroy the sanctity of village life".

Meanwhile, EDF Energy is expected to submit a development consent order for Sizewell C - a 3.2GW dual reactor nuclear power station, capable of supplying electricity to around six million homes - in the first quarter of 2020. While EDF claims Sizewell is needed to meet the nation's low carbon energy needs, as well as highlighting the thousands of jobs created - questions have been raised at an international level as to whether nuclear still has a role to play in the future of energy generation. EDF has also come under fire for the level of detail in its Sizewell proposals. Consultees said their biggest concerns were the impact of Sizewell C combined with the other energy projects, namely the wind farms.

The onshore cable route for East Anglia One wind farm covers more than 20 miles from Bawdsey to Bramford. Picture: TOM POTTER
The onshore cable route for East Anglia One wind farm covers more than 20 miles from Bawdsey to Bramford. Picture: TOM POTTER

The scale of these projects and the role they are expected to play in meeting the nation's energy needs has seen Suffolk referred to as the "energy coast". But some feel the title to be incompatible with the £210m tourism economy based around the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.

AONB manager Simon Amstutz said Suffolk was the only nationally designated landscape to be considered for a new nuclear power station - and the region was being asked to pay too a high price for the energy sector.

The Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation (DMO) published a recent report, which estimated the tourism industry would suffer a £24m annual loss if the two major projects go ahead.

The DMO and AONB have called for a national strategy on energy.

Campaigners are concerned about the impact of wildlife in the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Picture: PAUL SAWER
Campaigners are concerned about the impact of wildlife in the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Picture: PAUL SAWER

                                           

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