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Castle Hedingham: Councillors’ fears over substation plan

PUBLISHED: 16:04 21 February 2013 | UPDATED: 16:04 21 February 2013

Councilliors are concerned the new substation may interrupt views from Hedingham Castle.

Councilliors are concerned the new substation may interrupt views from Hedingham Castle.

COUNCILLORS have spoken out against the “appalling” impact they feel a proposed electricity substation will have in their area.

National Grid has put forward plans to build the new substation on wooded land near Wickham St Paul between Sudbury and Halstead. It has also proposed two alternative sites on the outskirts of Castle Hedingham.

The submission is part of the organisation’s plans to build a high-voltage connection between Bramford, near Ipswich, and Twinstead. But local councillors are concerned the development, which will be spread over an acre, will have a detrimental effect on the local landscape.

Braintree district councillor Wendy Scattergood, who represents the Hedingham and Maplestead ward, said: “It’s all open countryside where National Grid are proposing the substation should go. I’m very concerned it will be seen for miles.

“All this time we have heard the new line will be between Bramford and Twinstead and now we find out residents near Castle Hedingham will be affected. I’m not sure many people around here know what is being proposed.”

Ms Scattergood said she was trying to raise awareness among residents and encouraging them to attend one of the three public exhibitions about the project that National Grid is holding over the coming weeks. The first one takes place today at the village hall in Gestingthorpe, a nearby community.

Chairman of Castle Hedingham parish council, Sonia Allfrey, described the prospect of having a substation built so close to the village as “simply appalling”.

She added: “We have a fantastic Grade I-listed castle here and we are worried we will be able to see the wretched thing from there.

“We also have a medieval village centre that attracts lots of visitors and we are concerned about the impact on tourism.”

In addition, Ms Allfrey questioned why the new substation could not be built alongside an existing substation in Braintree eight miles away.

A spokesperson for National Grid said the option of extending the connection to Braintree had been looked at in “great detail”.

She said: “We have discounted it for many reasons. If we go overground there will be a negative impact on the landscape. If we go underground there will be a very big impact of the archaeology and biodiversity in the area.”

She added: “What is being proposed is the smallest substation on the whole of our network, which we will be able to screen very well with shrubs and trees.

“We’ve had to weigh up a lot of factors, such as engineering factors, access, the environment and local communities.

“We hope people can come to the exhibitions and talk to us to help us come to a decision.”

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Essex County Council is set to put its element of tax bills up by almost 5% from April as it prepares for the day when financial help from the government ceases.

The University of Suffolk has announced Professor Helen Langton will succeed Richard Lister OBE as vice-chancellor this summer.

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