By: Janice Turner Published: The Times, 29 October 2020
On a clear day in Aldeburgh, the wind turbines twirl on the pale horizon. On a clear night, their red lights wink. Hundreds of them, and I'm thrilled the Suffolk coast's raucous energy is being tapped for the public good.
But what I'm viewing is a gold rush. Out at sea, around 50 companies have planted their windmills. Now these prospectors are desperate to get their product to market by disgorging wind power on to the national grid. You'd assume green firms would strive to do this in the greenest possible way. Alas, their only care is the bottom line.
Nations with proper infrastructure planning, such as Germany and Denmark, ensure that wind companies bring their energy ashore at a single point, usually in a brownfield site. But our National Grid is privatised, with shareholders to please. So instead of one hub, each competing energy company plans its own massive substation in unspoiled countryside. A cable trench as wide as a motorway will be drilled under fragile cliffs, disrupting bird sanctuaries, throwing farmland into a decade of excavation
Such stupid vandalism. How can clean energy be so dirty? Especially when there's a brownfield site available at the disused Bradwell power station.
That would cost energy companies more in cabling, but what they haven't factored in is that campaigners will stall them for years. Suffolk has a tireless army of retired barristers, engineers, civil servants, artists and spies who care about every pebble on the beach. As the energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng considers this scheme, he might also remember that the East Anglian coast is one long Tory shire.
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.