Last week, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee invited the public to come forward with suggestions on the issues the Committee should investigate over the course of this Parliament. This open invitation is a key opportunity for us to highlight our campaign and influence the BEIS.
Suggestions are to be submitted via a short online form which asks the following questions:-
1. Please outline the issue that you would like the Committee to look into (200 words)
2. Why does this issue deserve attention? (200 words)
3. How could Government policy in this area be improved? (This might include the creation of new policy or changes to existing policy) (200 words)
Below is a suggested sample of answers to the above. Feel free to use these as you wish.
The deadline is Tuesday 31st March.
1.1 Whilst in favour of offshore wind turbines, the current proposed onshore grid connections and substations, with their sheer scale and impact, will have a devastating impact on Suffolk coastal communities and the surrounding environment.
1.2 Offshore alternatives which can avoid this needless destruction are available and already being rolled out in Europe. These offshore alternatives include offshore ring mains and offshore substations.
1.3 We are calling for the BEIS Committee to urgently investigate the onshore connections for offshore wind energy off the Suffolk coast (EA1N and EA2) and to rethink a more sustainable strategy for these onshore connections, including the development of an offshore ring main.
2.1 To avoid the needless destruction of ancient woodlands, rare heathland habitats and communities that depend on these precious landscapes. Scottish Power Renewables windfarm projects EA1N and EA2 involve 9 km of cable trenching which will threaten environmentally sensitive areas including; the Suffolk Coastal Path, the Suffolk Sandlings, officially designated Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, the destruction of mature woodland and swaths of Grade 2 and Grade 3 agricultural land. This is not even a brownfield site but rather the proposals will result in the loss of an area of the best and most versatile land.
2.2 The tourist industry, very important for economic growth, employment and wellbeing in coastal areas will be hit both in the area directly around the substation and cabling routes and have a knock on effect further afield. For example in East Suffolk, the Destination Management Organisation survey has forecast a potential 17% drop in tourism.
2.3 The huge substations with their scale and associated light and noise pollution would permanently and fundamentally change the essence of coastal East Suffolk.
3.1 Off shore wind projects cannot (as currently they are) be looked at in isolation. There is a cumulative impact from the numerous, consecutively occurring, energy projects on and around the Suffolk coast. Any proposals need to take into account: Sizewell C possible development; the offshore development of round 4 Crown Estates which will be another raft of onshore and offshore building; the extensions that are planned for Galloper and Gabbard; and the Nautilus and Eurolink interconnections. Whilst all projects are considered in isolation local communities and environments are left vulnerable to cumulative proposals. There needs to be an overarching strategic government plan for energy projects in East Suffolk.
3.2 Currently the government has no national strategy for the delivery of offshore power into the National Grid
3.3 In the short term, government policy should prioritise brownfield sites for onshore infrastructure.
3.4 In the mid-term government policy should require offshore transmission strategies that avoid needless destruction
3.5 The solution will require new legislation, this is straightforward for a majority government.
3.6 The UK's position as a world leader in offshore wind power will be undermined if the government continues its piecemeal, out-dated approach to onshore infrastructure.
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.