Huge energy projects could 'scar' countryside and cause major disruption
PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 May 2018
Communities in east Suffolk have launched a bid for major Government compensation to help them cope with plans for a number of huge energy projects which opponents say will "desecrate" the countryside.
While plans continue to progress for Sizewell C, the Leiston area is now also facing creation of a 30-acre substation complex for Scottish Power’s next two windfarms, and also two major industrial-scale National Grid projects called Nautilus and Eurolink to share power with Belgium and Holland.
People living in the area – who have now formed an action group to fight the plans – say they did not know its designation as an “energy hub” would lead to such “disruption, damage and destruction”, including up to 10km of trenches for power cables.
Suffolk Coastal council says it anticipates “five or six big structures” being required in the Leiston/Sizewell area which will bring huge benefits to the UK through economic development, but have major impacts on protected landscape, wildlife habitat, roads, tourism and communities.
Villagers in Friston are the latest to find themselves facing problems with Scottish Power Rewnewables having identified land known as Zone 7 between the village and the south-west of Leiston for its substation for East Anglia ONE North and East Anglia TWO offshore windfarms
A spokesman for the new residents’ action group at Friston, Knodishall and Aldringham said as well as the substation there would be a need for 10km of cables from Sizewell to Friston, meaning a trench 50m wide and two metres deep “scarring the landscape”.
He said: “This is a completely unnecessary desecration of the East Suffolk countryside which will cause disruption and worry to residents for many years and damage the local
economy. The countryside and residents of East Suffolk are being sacrificed.”
The group wants the power projects to be coordinated and infrastructure to be placed together either at Sizewell or Bramford, where grid connectors are for the other windfarms.
At Leiston there is also concern about the cumulative impact of the project.
Town councillor Sammy Betson said: “If this is done on a piecemeal basis we could see a big part of east Suffolk appear as an industrial estate with great big warehousing on it.”
ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) said it had decided on Zone 7 as the “preferable option” after extensive analysis of a wide range of issues.
The company had also undertaken a “high level landscape and visual impact assessment” which concluded that Zone 7 affected fewer parts of the landscape and was less visual compared with other options and benefitted from substantial screening from existing woodland.
The company’s said: “In addition, there are notable opportunities for further effective mitigation in the form of new woodland planting.”
The company had to take a balanced view toward site selection, using advice of our industry legal advisors who draw on National Planning Guidance, technical advisors and its our own significant project experience.
Public information days and consultation on the site selection will take place in June and July.
Huge energy projects planned for Suffolk’s coast will mean that 25% of the country’s electricity supply will eventually be coming through the Sizewell area.
Head of planning and coastal manager at Suffolk Coastal council, Philip Ridley told councillors that “appropriate compensation” would be sought from Government – particularly to deal with the demands on the area’s infrastructure and mitigate the impact.
Chairman of the council’s Sizewell C task group, Geoff Holdcroft said the authority was well aware of the situation and was in discussion with MPs Therese Coffey and Dan Poulter and endeavouring to attract the attention of Government ministers to the issues.
He said it was “essential for the various parties to work in concert and to have an effective sequence of work that delivered the projects with minimum impact and maximum benefit”.
Efforts were being made to encourage joint working.