MP 'disappointed' at approval for wind farms and Friston substation
- Credit: GREGG BROWN/JULIAN CLAXTON
Mixed reactions have today greeted the go-ahead for controversial plans for two new wind farms off the Suffolk coast - with an MP speaking of her disappointment at the Government decision.
Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, supported ScottishPower Renewables' plans for the East Anglia ONE North Offshore Windfarm and East Anglia TWO Offshore Windfarm, but not a 30-acre Friston substation, which has generated fears about damage to the rural environment.
In February last year, she said the sub-station and associated "spaghetti-like" cabling across the countryside would have a "devastating impact" on the area, including elements of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
She said: “Whilst I have always supported the offshore elements of the application, I have consistently spoken against the associated onshore infrastructure and the impact on Suffolk coastal, particularly in relation to the proposed substation at Friston, engaging extensively in the planning process and suggesting alternatives.
“So whilst I’m disappointed in the decision, I will now read the reasoning very carefully and provide further comment in due course.”
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng signalled the green light for the scheme on Thursday, citing in his consent letter the "substantial contribution" the offshore turbines would make towards delivering renewable energy and helping to decarbonise the economy.
He said that refusing the whole development, including the Friston substation, would not have been appropriate, adding that the "onshore transmission element" complied with policy and regulations and did not require a decision to be deferred.
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However, campaigners Substation Action Save East Suffolk (SASES), who are opposed to the proposals, said the approval would mean "the devastation of Friston and east Suffolk", with the potential loss of 100 acres of farmland.
SASES said: "The buildings will be 15 metres high in a site surrounded by listed buildings including the Grade II* village church.
"The development will increase the flood risk at Friston and create excessive noise in an exceptionally quiet rural area.
"The construction works from the cliffs at Thorpeness to Friston will last up to 10 years. The damage to the environment and way of life at Friston will be permanent. What is currently a tranquil rural environment will be permanently industrialised all in the name of so-called green energy.
"This consent has been granted despite the fact, as a result of the local community’s challenge and others in Norfolk, that BEIS accepts that these projects cause unacceptable and unnecessary environmental damage onshore having set up the BEIS Offshore Transmission Network Review to find better solutions."
Pleas had been made for a "split decision" to allow the wind farm’s construction to be built, while a site for a power hub to serve several planned power developments was chosen.
The Planning Inspectorate said East Anglia ONE North would provide up to 67 turbines, generators and associated infrastructure, with an installed capacity of up to 800MW, while East Anglia TWO would be 75 turbines, generators and infrastructure, to generate up to 900MW.
Together they will generate enough electricity for nearly 1.5million households.
However, a spokesperson for ScottishPower Renewables welcomed the approval.
She said: “Offshore wind is exactly what’s needed to get more clean, green, home-grown electricity on to the grid, so we can reduce our dependency on gas and reach net zero.
“We note the Secretary of State’s decisions to consent to the East Anglia ONE North and East Anglia TWO offshore windfarm projects, which were designed to support the UK’s green energy security and help turn the Government’s ambitions for offshore wind into reality.
“We’ll now fully assess what the detail of the decisions means in practice for our projects, our plans to generate enough affordable green electricity to power almost three million homes and our ambition to support up to 7,000 jobs.”
East Suffolk Council has also noted the business secretary’s decision and will have an oversight role to ensure the project complies with the development plans.
The council’s deputy leader Craig Rivett said: “East Suffolk Council will study the details of the decision itself and will now work with the developer and with the affected communities to ensure that the projects are delivered in accordance with the Development Consent Orders and that the required mitigation and compensation measures are provided and implemented, in a timely manner.”
The East of England Offshore Wind Cluster has been created to promote the region’s capabilities in producing wind energy.
The cluster’s chair Andrew Harston welcomed the project’s approval.
He said: “This is a further significant endorsement of our region as being at the forefront of UK Offshore wind development and strongly contributing to the Prime Minister’s target of 40GW of installed capacity by 2030.
“The East Anglia Hub projects, in conjunction with the Norfolk Boreas and Vanguard projects being developed by Vattenfall off Norfolk, will see billions of pounds of investment in the East of England with many jobs being supported and new jobs created in both the construction and long-term operations and maintenance functions.”
Generate, the East of England’s pioneering energy investment partnership, also welcomed the development consent.
Ian Pease, energy development manager at Generate, said: “We are really pleased to see planning permission granted for the East Anglia TWO and ONE North wind farms.
"The East of England as the UK’s leading renewable energy producer is on track to supply 50% of the UK’s 40GW offshore wind target by 2030 and these projects form an important part of that. By combining offshore and onshore wind, solar, nuclear power and gas, the East of England is driving the UK’s energy transition, helping to keep the country on track for net zero by 2050.”