Edward King, Snape Resident, Open Floor Hearings 4 (OFH4), Thursday 5 November 2020

Good morning. My name is Edward King. I was born in Ipswich, went to school just outside Ipswich and have lived in Snape since 1983. I am a strong believer in renewable energy, so much so that I own and manage one of the few caravan parks in the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB which relies almost exclusively for its power on renewables; nearly all the caravans on my park derive their power either from solar panels or from wind. I am constantly looking for ways to remove carbon fuel from my park and my tenants are all keen to embrace the park’s green credentials. The park has been awarded a Bellamy Gold Medal for ten consecutive years, in recognition of its ongoing commitment to environmental awareness.

The principle of harnessing wind energy in the North Sea is therefore one with which I wholeheartedly agree and the Applicant’s proposal should have been music to my ears. However, the location and massive extent of the proposed development undermines the very foundation of environmental sensitivity which should be the cornerstone of any such project. The very fact that the Applicant has chosen to site what will be a substantial concrete construction in the middle of an unspoilt green field location suggests that the thought process behind the decision was more a case of sticking a pin in a map than a considered search for the best location. At best, it smacks of lazy thinking – at worst it can be seen as cynical and bullying: a huge corporation, Scottish Power Renewables, using its sheer size and hiding behind the veil of ‘the public interest’ to literally bulldoze its way through legitimate local concerns, all for lack of proper research and a coordination of approach. There is nothing about the Friston site which makes it either ideal, logical or necessary, and there is much that makes it unsuitable, illogical and undesirable.

This part of East Suffolk relies heavily on the tourism industry, worth an estimated £600 million to the area. Visitors come to enjoy the coast and the unspoilt nature of the countryside: indeed, there are no large scale attractions by way of theme parks, and it is specifically this lack of development which brings so many people here. At current levels, the traffic is already high during peak seasonal periods, and the massive increase in HGV traffic which will be generated during the construction phase will inevitably clog up the roads and increase pollution along the A1094 and its surrounding area. I am aware that the issue of traffic has been raised in a number of other submissions, so I will not dwell on it here, save to say that there is no scenario in which the increase in HGV traffic on the A1094 can ever be mitigated to an acceptable level. As someone who lives on the A1094 I have justifiable fears that the increase in traffic will have immediate and long term effects on my health as well as that of my family.

To come back to the effect of this project on tourism, and my caravan park in particular, I am concerned about the levels of air pollution which will be created by the construction on the plant. The Applicant’s own assessment confirms that the level dust pollution generated during all phases of this project are predominantly ‘high’. My caravan park lies to the northeast of the proposed site and therefore in the path of any fine particulate matter which will be carried on the prevailing south-westerly wind. My tenants cover a broad cross section of ages, but a large number are retired and spend months at a time at the park. These people will be at particular risk from the particulate matter which will be carried by the wind and it is likely that some will develop respiratory problems as a result. It is important to bear in mind that we are not talking about a quick-in quick-out operation here: the build time for this project is given as 12 to 15 years, and given the propensity of such projects to over-run, it is probable that this will extend to 17 or 18 years. That means 18 years of exposure to construction site dust.

To recap, East Suffolk is not an industrialised region. Its economy is based on tourism, which in turn depends on the unspoilt nature of its countryside. The SPR proposal will blight the countryside and will lead to at least 15 years of economic damage in the area – the number of visitors lost will vastly outweigh the relatively small number of outside workers brought to the area by the constructors.

It is evident to all but those with vested interests that the Friston site is unsuitable as a base for this development. What is needed is a coordinated approach to energy infrastructure in East Suffolk, not the piecemeal plans which are currently being proposed. At the very least, this proposal should be put on hold until a formal and thorough enquiry can draw together all the various projects into one coordinated and coherent strategy.

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