Hope in fight against pylons
PROTESTERS fighting against a proposed new line of pylons across the south Suffolk countryside have been given fresh hope by the new Government.
Groups from both sides of the Suffolk/Essex border have come together to provide a united front against National Grid’s proposals for a new line of pylons from Bramford, near Ipswich, to Twinstead, near Sudbury.
The infrastructure company says the new line will be necessary to take power from new offshore wind farms, two new gas power stations at King’s Lynn and in Lincolnshire, and a possible Sizewell C power station into the grid.
However, its proposals for a new line of pylons has provoked uproar from local residents and those wishing to preserve the beauty of Constable Country, with the EADT leading the fight.
A coalition of groups has now been formed – Stour Valley Underground, Colne Stour Countryside Association, the Dedham Vale Society and Bury Not Blight – to oppose the plans.
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And they are hoping that statements by the new Government will lead to a re-appraisal of National Grid’s proposals.
The coalition has said it is committed to developing an offshore electricity grid which would remove the need to carry more power across the East Anglian countryside.
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It has also ruled out any Government financial help for any new nuclear power stations – that could mean that any new Sizewell C station could be postponed until 2020 at the earliest.
Under the previous government, there were hopes that it could be operational by 2016.
In a document prepared by the protesters following a meeting with the National Grid and the Government’s Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), those opposed to the pylons demanded that any decision should be put off until the need was reassessed.
Their statement says: “It would be a calamity if these pylons were to go ahead only to see that they were unnecessary in four or five years’ time.”
David Holland, from Stour Valley Underground, said there was now no need to rush forward with the pylons.
He said: “The National Grid has been upgrading the pylons recently so they can easily take the power from the two stations near the Wash.
“The earliest Sizewell C can be operating is now 2020 – and given the history of nuclear power stations that seems very optimistic.
“And the Government has said that the power from the offshore wind farms will go to the European green energy grid offshore, so that won’t come through here.
“Given other changes that could be made quite easily here there is absolutely no need for new pylons to come through this beautiful part of the countryside.”
However, a spokeswoman for National Grid said: “National Grid has agreements to connect two other generators to the system in East Anglia, as well as Sizewell C.
“A new overhead line would still be needed for these two other generators and for potential off-shore wind.
“When we design the system we have to build in certain industry standards to ensure safe and reliable electricity supplies. We also have an obligation under our licence to be ‘efficient and co-ordinated’.
“A new overhead line would enable us to connect all these new generators and comply with the necessary industry standards, which are set by the industry regulator.
“We fully support the development of an off-shore undersea grid and we are members of the industry working groups investigating the feasibility of this.
“However, there are significant legal, commercial and technical challenges to resolve before this becomes a reality.
“In addition, an off-shore grid network would not replace the need for an on-shore electricity transmission system, which would be required to enable the off-shore power to reach homes and businesses on land.”