My name is Georgina King. I am 22 years old and I have been a Suffolk Energy Action Solutions (SEAS) campaigner since the outset as well as being a fierce supporter of the other campaign groups – Save Our Sandlings and SASES – and for the last month I have been running the SEAS campaign shop in Aldeburgh. I am speaking up on behalf of my sister, my brother, my local friends and the generations to come who will be the ones to suffer most from the devastating consequences of the Applicant’s plans. As many other speakers in the OFH’s have said, we are all passionately in favour of wind energy, but believe me when I say that my generation is looking on and asking “is this really the best you can do?” Do not allow this to happen in our name. This is not “green” by any definition I know. This is dirty energy.
I would like to draw attention to the A1094. It is the road that Scottish Power intends to use for access to the proposed substation sites in Friston and represents the main arterial road into Aldeburgh from the A12. It is hard to think of a road less adequate for daily movements of industrial vehicles as it is already clogged with agricultural vehicles, tourists, emergency vehicles and commuters. Aldeburgh and villages along the A1094 will be a no-g- zone. But if the Applicant is willing to overlook the logistical and physical shortcomings of their chosen route, I will be shocked if they are equally happy to ignore the life-threatening increase in air pollution their diesel HGVs will produce. It will be the lungs of the children whose lives go on around this country road that will have to deal with the consequences of this infrastructure traffic. If you go ahead, children will be the victims of this ill-conceived energy project – and I would like to ask the Applicant; are you happy to let that be your legacy?
Logistical and physical issues:
As others have already outlined in great detail the logistical shortcomings of the road, such as the Victorian railway bridge between Friday Street Farm Shop and Snape Watering needing “modifications” to accommodate passing HGV’s which will require the total dismantling and rebuilding of the bridge, disrupting road and rail traffic, I would only like to dwell briefly on the increased risk to life. The A12 junction at Benhall is identified as an accident risk and a collision cluster zone. On10th August 2020 Fire crews had to free a person from a car after a crash on the A12. Awkward HGV’s and drivers who do not know the junction will pose a great risk to a zone that already represents a casualty hotspot in the area.
Figures 1 and 2 are photos that I took two days apart in September and that those who live on the road will all recognise: cyclists and tractors – exacerbated in harvest season and peak tourism months in the summer – cyclists will be pushed off the road by passing HGVs and casualties and fatalities will increase. Would anyone looking at these photographs seriously conclude that this looks like a road fit for mass industrialisation? I am focussing on these points on the road where threat to life is already a problem and not discussing/querying the 49% increase on average traffic on the A1094 estimated by SPR (although I believe they’re calculations are at the very least over-optimistic) because as I see it any increase of traffic on a saturated road is too much when people’s lives are at stake
If we imagine though, for a moment that the A1094 is a suitable road, sufficiently wide for passing HGVs and not the exclusive arterial road for workers, emergency services and tourists into Aldeburgh, the impact on air quality alone makes SPRs plans unacceptable. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) the Eastern region is among 38 of the UK’s 43 air quality zones which are currently breaching EU limits.
The highest recording for ozone pollution in 2020 so far (January to mid-September) which was taken at Sibton (6 miles from the A1094 / A12 junction) was also the highest recording of tropospheric ozone pollution in the whole of the UK. Many may not be familiar with tropospheric ozone; this is the ozone that accumulates at ground level and is a greenhouse gas and air pollutant. The World Health Organisation labels it a Group 1 carcinogen, whose appearance is prompted by the combination of pollutants including nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide from vehicle and industry emissions. In fact, these are the very same chemicals that HGVs and SPR’s planned infrastructure projects would emit, as road traffic is the primary producer of tropospheric ozone precursors and 99% of HGVs run on diesel. The production of tropospheric ozone is actually exacerbated by sunny weather and rural landscapes as there the presence of other gases that can “mop-up” the ozone is minimal.
So with all this in mind, when I tell you that findings at DEFRA’s monitoring station at Sibton show that ozone levels here have already exceeded the Government’s target maximum breathing quality threshold by 370% between 1st January and 23rd September 2020, does the Applicant feel comfortable adding to that appalling surplus of carcinogenic air pollutant?
Breathing in soot from diesel vehicles damages the lungs as much as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for fifteen years. The black carbon given off in diesel fumes has been observed causing changes to the blood vessels around the lungs. Figures 3 and 4 show a map of schools that are located either on or nearby the A1094 and a school bus stop, used by at least 4 local schools, that sits on the A1094/Church Road junction in Snape. We are looking at potentially 10-12 years of school children breathing in toxic diesel particulate matter every morning and every afternoon as they wait at the bus stop, doing the same irreparable lung damage as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for 15 years. I am sure it will be a great source of relief to these children and their parents that their sacrifice is all in the name of green energy.
Seeing as in SPR’s Traffic and Transport Environmental Statement from October 2019 the words ‘air pollution’ appear only once and ‘tropospheric’ zero times in all 118 pages I can only assume that either SPR have not fully conducted research into the matter or that they think additional airborne diesel particulates in an area that already exceeds the Government’s maximum breathing quality levels by 370% is acceptable. So I ask the Applicant; is the shocking lack of research negligence or arrogance?
Fig. 1 (10th September 2020)
Fig. 2 (8th September 2020)
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.