Campaigners fear 'devastation' after huge wind farms get go-ahead

ScottishPower Renewables is celebrating the completion of East Anglia ONE wind farm in the North Sea

Two new wind farms off Suffolk have been given the go-ahead - Credit: JULIAN CLAXON/CHPV

Campaigners have reacted furiously after the go-ahead was given for two large wind farms off the Suffolk coast - saying the onshore infrastructure will "devastate" the countryside.

The approval by business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng also signals the go-ahead for the 30-acre Friston substation - needed as part of the network to bring the power ashore.

This is despite pleas for a "split decision" to allow the wind farm construction to begin while a site for a 'power hub' to serve several planned power developments is chosen.

The Planning Inspectorate said ScottishPower Renewables' plans for the East Anglia ONE North Offshore Windfarm of up to 67 turbines, generators and associated infrastructure, with an installed capacity of up to 800MW, and East Anglia TWO Offshore Windfarm of up to 75 turbines, generators and infrastructure, to generate up to 900MW, had both been approved. 

Together they will generate enough electricity for nearly 1.5million households.

The SEAS campaign group fears the impact a sub-station will have on medieval Friston

The SASES campaign group fears the impact a sub-station will have on medieval Friston - Credit: SASES

Substation Action Save East Suffolk (SASES) said the decision would mean "the devastation of Friston and east Suffolk".

It will mean the loss of 100 acres of farmland at Friston to build the substation.

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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."

But Generate, the East of England’s pioneering energy investment partnership, has welcomed the development consent for ScottishPower Renewables’ two wind farms.

Ian Pease, energy development manager, 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.

"The green light for East Anglia TWO and ONE North will keep the region’s energy supply chain and skilled workforce thriving and is the latest step in the East of England’s vision for securing the UK’s sustainable energy future.”

In the consent letter, Mr Kwarteng says "substantial weight" should be given to the contribution that the wind farms would make towards meeting the national need and the "substantial contribution it would make towards the delivery of renewable energy", helping with the decarbonisation of the economy.

The letter said that "after careful consideration", the Secretary of State had concluded that refusing the entire development or the onshore transmission element (the Friston substation and cable network across miles of countryside) "would not be appropriate".

It said: "The proposed onshore transmission element complies with current policy and regulatory regime, and the OTNR (Offshore Transmission Network Review) does not require live applications to be deferred pending its outcome. The Secretary of State does not consider that his decision should be deferred or that the onshore elements should be refused pending the outcome of the OTNR."