Find out exactly what your local Suffolk County Councillors have said to add weight to your Representations. For a full recording of this meeting please see the live webcast of the meeting. (Questions from Michael Mahony and Graeme Murray can be heard at 11 minutes and the full agenda item from about 1 hour)
SEAS attended the Cabinet meeting at Suffolk County Council on January 14th where Councillor Richard Rout, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, presented their response to SPR's DCO proposals for offshore windfarms East Anglia One North (EA1N) and East Anglia Two (EA2).
Councillor Richard Rout was very clear in his objection to the site of Friston and the need for a co-ordinated coherent strategy to energy projects around the Suffolk Coast.
"Yes these projects could bring crucial renewable energy and economic benefits but this must not be delivered at any cost"
"There are significant and widespread negative impacts that would be associated with the construction and operation of these wind farms"
"We on this cabinet and these recommendations today object to the siting of the proposed grid connection and substation site at Friston due to the impact on the local
community environment. This is currently an attractive and quiet rural landscape and these proposals would permanently and fundamentally change the setting of that village."
"We must continue to raise with government our very real worries around the lack of a coordinated approach to energy projects on and around the Suffolk coast. There are multiple NSIPs coming forward for this part of Suffolk, over and above the proposal for Sizewell C and we must have an overarching strategy from government."
"Only with a coherent plan, with all these projects viewed in the round rather than individually can we properly protect our natural environment and properly represent our communities."
Councillor Andrew Reid commented on the inadequacy of the Highways around Friston and further afield. His rhetoric was a little more on the side of mitigation in the form of construction of a new roundabout, new highways works and provision for abnormal loads. He too added his voice to the cumulative impact of energy projects with a visual analogy ...
"We need to put into perspective the impact on the village and its immediate surrounding area ... if we focused simply on the three substations required for these projects alone, that’s one for each of the wind farms and a third for National Grid... at the minimum weare talking of 10 (football pitches) per substation...this is massive and we cannot overlook that."
"The cumulative and strategic impact of everything else on top of this, taking 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, the Nautilus and Eurolink interconnections. All of this will have a massive impact on just one place and that is Friston."
"The need for an overarching strategy to meet those strategic implications from 11 NSIPs coming forward for Suffolk"
"We are becoming a real area for energy generation and without a strategic overview it brings very, very real challenges to Suffolk."
"These two DCOs are the thin end of the wedge"
(Friston) "would become the natural magnet for future connections to the grid".
"the NSIP and PINS process is inherently flawed”
Councillor Nick Gowrley/Councillor Mary Evans focused on the possible economic growth and opportunities which the offshore wind farms will bring to the region.
Councillor James Reeder added more weight to the importance of raising concerns with government regarding the cumulative impact of energy projects along the Suffolk coast.
Councillor Gordon Jones touched on a solution
The council need to "continue to make our legitimate case for a practical underground underwater solution. We must have some joined up strategic thinking from central government on how we move the electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed."
"Now we have an opportunity and we must grasp that opportunity to present our case to central government in the strongest term"
Councillor Penny Otton challenged the view that SPR would bring economic benefits to Suffolk but rather the likely impact on the tourist industry would be detrimental to the economy.
Councillor James Finch talked about the importance of AONB and the need to be proactive
"It’s time we took the front foot and not wait for whatever happens next in terms of the process of this."
Councillor Inga Lockington was interested in the impact on the fishing industry and migrating birds. The official response was that neither of these issues are being looked into by SCC but are being addressed by Re-management Organisation (fishing), and Natural England (migrating birds).
Councillor Russ Rainger gave an informed overview informative of the regional energy picture/NSIPs and again added his weight to the point that this is bigger than these two applications from SPR.
"We have to look at what we've got (i.e. EA1N and EA2) ... but it is bigger, it is more dramatic than just this item. With all the energy that will come through that part of the
network our structure will be significantly pressurised .. "
"The NSIP process is letting us down"
Councillor Matthew Hicks reinforced many of the above points
"We also believe that these and other energy coast schemes lack strategic direction and co- ordination, it really is essential that this is provided and we will continue to do everything we can to make that happen."
"The process leading to the selection of the Friston grid connection and substation site has lacked clear and proper scrutiny."
Michael Mahony raised the issue of accountability.
.. "National Grid has a lot to answer for in its failure to strategically plan and invest in onshore distribution for offshore power despite being aware of the issues at least a
decade ago. This has been compounded by ScottishPower’s failure to develop the Bawdsey to Bramford Cable Route as originally planned and consented. What is the
council doing to hold ScottishPower and National Grid to account?”
"In light of the DMO survey where they forecast a potential 17% drop in tourism would the council consider to undertake its own audit of new onshore jobs which could be created for the East Anglia region?”
The North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH) has stated publicly that it wants to engage with both the Norwegian and U.K. authorities to pull them into the development of the offshore hub. As well as offshore wind expertise and access to the North Sea, both can also use oil and gas know-how to store hydrogen in offshore reservoirs and retrofit gas pipelines to transport hydrogen instead. A spokesperson for BEIS said: “The government recognizes the benefits of hybrid projects, including joint interconnector and wind projects, which may develop into efficient and cost-effective solutions to help the U.K. decarbonize. We are continuing to engage with stakeholders and developers to understand the potential benefits of these projects.”
Installing an additional 30GW within ten years will require significant changes to a range of policy frameworks, and co-operation between government and industry, writes Christopher Hopson