Last night SEAS attended the Woodbridge hustings. There must have been around 300 locals attending. The St John’s Church was packed. SEAS asked the following question of all four candidates:
“Would you support a Public Inquiry and call a halt to the Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) Development Consent Order process, which is due to begin on 23 November?'
A Public Inquiry, whose objectives are two fold:
1. To explore the environmental damage that could be caused by SPR’s current plans to bring the transmission infrastructure from offshore wind farms onto one of the most environmentally sensitive spots in the UK, from Thorpeness cliffs to Friston?
2. To examine the opportunity to build offshore Ring Main solutions as part of a national offshore transmission infrastructure strategy?
All four candidates were very supportive of this question and backed a call for a Public Inquiry.
These are a few summary highlights from the responses.
Our current MP Therese Coffey was quick to reassure the assembly that: “I have consistently said this [SPR plan] is not acceptable. We have called for a review. These plans for SPR look very costly. National Grid is in between Ofgem and the private energy companies. We cannot damage the environment in our pursuit of renewable energy. We need to have a holistic strategy.“
The Labour Candidate, Cameron Matthews was the first to say that: “this new name for the coast “The Energy Coast” is not right. It is "The Heritage Coast" and we want to save our countryside.” Cameron was clear that skilled jobs were needed but that these SPR plans did not help jobs.
Rachel Smith-Lyte, the Green Party candidate was very much a local girl, loved Nature and the landscapes and was in favour of a mix of conservation and renewables. Rachel wants more solar, more wind, more renewables generally.
Jules Ewart, Lib Dem, was quite original in her thinking, very keen to get EDF and SPR and other energy companies to work together. Jules was totally in favour of a “moratorium to reassess all the options including brownfield sites. “
We should be heartened by what these four party candidates agreed upon and the earlier unusual appeal from the Clergy for respect and self control and responsibility: “For the common good”, as the two Archbishops suggested in the introductory film, “let’s work together”.
A recent study says that often wind, solar and hydro schemes have been built inareas of environmental significance and pose a threat to key natural habitats. The authors of the report say that greater care must be taken when planning and permitting renewable facilities. "If we let these developments go ahead, the biodiversity will be gone long before climate change starts affecting it.....we are not saying that renewables are bad, we just need to put them in the right places."
European grid operators want to combine 10-gigawatt offshore turbine clusters, interconnectors and hydrogen. It no longer looks like a pipe dream.