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New windfarm projects generate ‘significant concerns’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 January 2020

Councils are to tell the Planning Inspectorate of their concerns over the impact of proposals for two new windfarms off Suffolk Picture: JASON HAWKES

Councils are to tell the Planning Inspectorate of their concerns over the impact of proposals for two new windfarms off Suffolk Picture: JASON HAWKES

Jason Hawkes

Community leaders are to tell national planning chiefs that proposals for two huge new windfarms off Suffolk will have “significant impacts” on tourism, roads and people.

While East Suffolk Council is in favour in principle of the energy projects, it is has strong concerns over a number of aspects of the work - which will involve cable channels across the countryside from Thorpeness to Friston, where a large substation will be created.

Meanwhile, Suffolk County Council is preparing to give its response - and feels the windfarms could have a "considerable impact" on the onshore environment.

District councillors discussed ScottishPower Renewables' (SPR) submission of a Development Consent Order for the East Anglia TWO (EA2) and East Anglia ONE North (EAN1) offshore windfarms to provide electricity for 1.5million homes.

The meeting on Tuesday was attended by a number of campaigners, including from Substation Action / Save East Suffolk (SASES), who are worried about the Friston project but also about the cumulative impact of several planned energy projects for the same area.

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said he was "disappointed" at the plans for the infrastructure for the windfarms and also felt the preparations for up to six energy schemes in the area was "too piecemeal" and work nationally to address the cumulative impact was not moving fast enough.

He said: "We need to make our views known and secure the best deal for our residents."

The cabinet meeting agreed to tell the Planning Inspectorate that the council recognises the national benefit the projects will bring in meeting the renewable energy targets and creating sustainable economic growth in Suffolk but this must only be achieved without "significant damage" to the built and natural environment, local communities and the tourist economy.

The council has "significant concerns" including on landscape, noise, design and masterplan, and traffic and transport.

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The council said: "Based on the current submissions East Suffolk Council objects to the overall impact of the onshore substations and raises significant concerns regarding the significant effects predicted from the offshore turbines on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB."

Suffolk County Council says it remains committed to supporting renewable energy projects - for the green energy they produce and jobs and investment brought into the area - but still has "serious concerns" about their impact on communities and the natural environment.

At its meeting on January 14, the council's cabinet will be asked to agree its position on EA1N and EA2.

Richard Rout, cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: "As a local authority, our first consideration is always our residents. Yes, these projects can bring crucial renewable energy, many economic benefits and support local communities, but this must not be at any cost.

"We do not feel that ScottishPower Renewables has struck an acceptable balance to mitigate the impact on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Moreover, we do not believe Friston to be an acceptable location for the proposed substation due to the impact on the local community and environment. Nor do we feel that there has been sufficient consideration of those who live and work in these areas, or of the impact on our highways.

"We also still have concerns about the apparent lack of a strategic overview for all the different energy projects on the Suffolk coast and continue to raise these with Government."

SPR said its submissions were made following extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders, including local authorities, councils and communities to shape and inform its proposals. A spokesman said: "We have taken all care to ensure that any impact on local communities is minimised."

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