10 June 2020
The Planning Inspectorate
National Infrastructure Planning
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Bristol BS1 6PN
By email only:
EastAngliaOneNorth@planninginspectorate.gov.uk Registration Identification No (EA1N): 20024494
EastAngliaTwo@planninginspectorate.gov.uk Registration Identification No (EA2): 20024496
Dear Mr Rynd Smith and Ms Mignano
Further to your letter of 21 May 2020, we understand that you are exploring ways to progress events virtually.
For reasons set out below, we believe that there are particular circumstances in respect of the ScottishPower NSIPs and the National Grid NSIP, which render this process ill-advised and unsuitable for these examinations.
There is a significant level of opposition to the specific proposals as SEAS (Suffolk Energy Action Solutions) Campaign has signaled on its website (at www.suffolkenergyactionsolutions.co.uk), through social media and on billboards and posters across the affected region. It is rare to find such intense opposition to so-called green energy proposals, however these set of proposals are not only ill-conceived, but are irresponsible on the part of BEIS, the National Grid, Ofgem and the developers ScottishPower. In the race to achieve zero carbon emission targets, needless destruction of precious countryside and people’s livelihoods cannot be supported. The end does not justify the means.
The putative consultation process to date has been a sham. Examples of obfuscation, failure to carry out appropriate quantitative studies of risk to rare habitats and wildlife, risk to heritage and landscape, risk to tranquility and traffic, and risk to tourism, business and well-being, have been well-documented by numerous groups, of particular note, by SASES (Substation Action Save East Suffolk), SEAS and SOS (Save Our Sandlings). The DCO process is not fit for purpose. It does not allow for the evaluation of the cumulative impact of incremental energy projects in one small, fragile region. The DCO process was for individual infrastructure projects and yet, in East Suffolk, we are facing the onslaught of over ten substation and interconnector projects, not including proposals for the new Sizewell C project.
The lives of local Suffolk people matter. It does not feel like that. Our voices are not being heard.
Without a forum gathering in person at Snape Maltings, as was originally proposed, we do not feel that our concerns will be fully assessed and debated. Zoom video meetings and their equivalent are quite clinical and sterile. The untrained speaker feels intimidated by the camera. We need to express our concerns, more freely in an open auditorium venue. We wish to challenge some of the assumptions with our local friends, colleagues and stakeholders attending in person.
We suggest that the Hearings are postponed until March 2021. By then we would expect the test and trace process to be fully proven and that a public gathering will once again be viable.
The interim period could be immensely productive. The in-field visits for inspectors could take place accompanied at all times by a knowledgeable local resident, in order to ensure that the vulnerable zones are examined in detail and not omitted, which is the case to date.
We urge PINS to consider our collective recommendations to BEIS to call for a full Review immediately for the whole of East Anglia, in order that a more efficient and responsible strategy is implemented.
Having studied developments in Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Holland and Norway, we know that an offshore modular grid could be constructed easily around this area of the North Sea and that it could be a more cost-efficient conduit for green energy, possibly with both electricity and hydrogen corridors. New legislation facilitating the general use of a single grid system can be implemented swiftly with a majority government. This national strategy will be cheaper to implement than the current ad hoc incremental method.
Let us do things right for local communities today and for the future. We should leave a green legacy. The basis on which we deliver this green energy must be every bit as green as the energy itself.
In summary, we ask you to ensure a fair, open and thorough examination process and that means actual in person public meetings do take place, once we have the safety guarantees to conduct Hearings in this way.
Founder, SEAS Campaign
The Secretary of State has granted a three month extension to the Examination.
During the recent development consent order hearings (DCO), the Suffolk Energy Action Solutions group (SEAS) brought to the attention of the inspectors the fact that Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) are using “gagging” clauses in their agreements with landowners involved in the planning process for their offshore wind farms, EA1N and EA2. These clauses offer financial incentives to individuals and groups to withdraw objections and/or desist from objecting to their plans. There can be no justification for making payments or imposing conditions which undermine a statutory planning inquiry conducted in accordance with public law principles.