I was staggered when I heard Friston was one of several sites SP had earmarked to build a substation near. We were near the bottom of the list and I thought substation; something small – tucked away – not obvious.
When information trickled through on the scale of the proposal, the monstrous nature of it – I was incredulous. I couldn’t get my head around the idea that the place I choose to live, a small beautiful village between lovely Aldeburgh and lovely Snape could be used in this way.
When Friston was chosen I felt sick to the stomach because I know how these things go. SP could hire great law firms, expensive planning counsel, the best experts - they could and no doubt have spent several million pounds on this process whilst our community resources are very limited.
I went to all of the consultation sessions. Frankly, they were pointless for anything other than SP saying they had consulted with us. . I was greeted by smiling speakers giving standard answers. If I pressed a difficult question; at best they were embarrassed and at worst I could see they were making up stories. But they could say they went through the process.
Following those meetings I started to suspect that SP were being disingenuous over their full intentions for the site. It would be bad enough if they only wanted to build one substation; but I don’t believe they do. I believe they have big plans for what is a big site.
I believe that what Scottish Power (and the National Grid) envisage the proposed site at Friston as a hub for future projects. No doubt they are already planning to sell space off the site as they choose using their huge economic power to drive through the permissions they need to do so. If they build it, others will come to use it; other projects will hitch onto it.
We are told that it is good for the area; but I don’t believe this project will create many real long term jobs, in fact I think the area will lose jobs and tourism as a result of what is planned. I believe that the impact of the project will cause extra flooding to the village. I am certain it will remove our rights of way, our lovely off road walks – that the impact of the building project will destabilise our listed and vulnerable buildings, the Lorries and necessary equipment will clog up our narrow roads, cause noise and other pollution for the unknown years of the building project. That we will end up living with visual atrocity, and a constant environment hum.
I feel very angry that this project is trampling over mine and the lives of others to make profit and along the way boast a glossy dream to the rest of the country of how kind they are, how environmentally friendly they are, how when a person turns on a tap in Belgium – or wherever they sell their power too – they can be reassured that SP is saving the world for them.
To me it’s a catastrophe. My life is sunk here and overnight I am faced with what for me is an environmental nightmare. I have no trust in SP conduct. I believe they want to do exactly what they want to do. That they will leave the site exactly as ugly as they are allowed too – to damage our community exactly as they wish.
It must be possible to site this project away from a local community. Scottish power could build their 16 concrete football pitches in any number of places –- places where it doesn’t matter if they add too or change the use of their site. Where they will not do so much personal and environmental damage.
How could I object to renewable power; I don’t. This is not about my objecting to a joined up, coherent policy for the provision of and use of the world's resources. The need to move offshore power onshore does not, should not, mean that SP can do what it wants and drive itself as a juggernaut where it wishes.
However I look at this project, whatever I think or say, I am drawn back to a central question. However it could be proposed to site a huge industrial complex, a noisy concrete jungle, within sight and sound of a small rural village, within sight of a grade 2 listed church. The church is in the heart of our community and if this complex is built we are going to be able to stand in its grounds and have clear sight of and almost touch, hear and smell the substation.
How can that it be conceived, let alone allowed to be built. Such a huge project so close to a small rural community. And of course the name Friston will become synonymous not with a green and peaceful place but an industrial wasteland. Green energy should not come at the cost of destruction of the rural environment and rural community. We should not be disposable and it feels as SP believes we are.
Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
A group of 18 leading environmental organisations, including the RSPB, Friends of the Earth and the Wildlife Trusts, have written to the prime minister to call for better coordination of offshore windfarms that would ensure a minimum of environmental disruption.
A group of 18 leading environmental organisations, including the RSPB, Friends of the Earth and the Wildlife Trusts, have written to the prime minister to call for better coordination that would ensure a minimum of disruption.